So I've been thinking about the weapons and tactic involved in a realistic space battle, and now I want to talk about it. This is a set-up that I think is reasonable (assuming no energy shields). Do you think it is? What kinds of battle tactics would such a system use? How could it be improved? Do you have viable alternate system? What would happen in a show-down? How would things be affected if fighters were thrown into the mix, would they be an enormous asset or get slaughtered? Distributed Laser System: Specs: One laser mounted on a turret at each end of the ship. They can put out x megawatts per second as either a continuous beam or a short, more powerful burst followed by recharge time. They are connected directly to the power plant and the laser power is determined by how much power is fed to them, and how much of that is distributed between the two. For maximum power, all other systems can be shut down and redirected to the lasers. If the capacitors are damaged, they are incapable of firing bursts. Uses for: The lasers can be used against enemy ships, but they are not very effective (see defense). The best use for them is anti-missile defense, nuke preparation (by damaging mirror finish), and conventional missile preparation, (by damaging shrapnel nets). They are capable of firing at the same time against multiple targets, or having one fire a burst against one target while the other acquires it’s next target. Defense against relativistic weapons. Lasers are a long range weapon. Defenses against: 1. Random acceleration in random directions at 1-4 g’s. This reduces the amount of time a continuous beam can rest in one spot, lessening point damage on the hull. It also reduces the chances that a charged burst will hit. Most importantly, it makes it nearly impossible for the enemy to fire a burst into your laser lens and destroy it’s firing capability. 2. Mirrored hull reflects most of the light, but not enough to make lasers impotent. Micrometeorite pits in the hulls are a particular weakness because it allows places for the light to “catch” on the hull. This is the primary reason to use a continuous beam, because it has a much higher chance of hitting and widening one of those pits. Effects: 1. continuous beam will slowly melt and evaporate the metal. If it is allowed to rest in one spot, it will burn a small hole into the interior of the ship. If it is not allowed to rest in one spot, it will damage the reflective coating, allowing lasers to do more damage on the next pass. A continuous beam is most useful for finding micro pits and expanding the damaged section of reflective coating, making a much larger part of the hull vulnerable to bursts and nukes; and attempting to hit the opponents laser lens and instruments. 2. Bursts will cause an explosion when they instantly evaporate a small cross section of metal. The expanding gasses will create a large hole that is much harder to patch. If it penetrates, it will cause extensive damage to internal mechanisms. Notes: The extreme distance that battle is carried out at means that until the ships get close there will be a lag of several seconds between the movement of the ship and the appearance of it’s movement, making hitting it with even computer controlled lasers very difficult, because tracking the random movements will almost always ensure a miss. The ship will no longer be in the position it appears, and random movements ensure it won’t be where it looks like it should be several seconds in the future. A continuous beam is more likely to hit, but will do less damage. Instrument lenses, laser lenses, exposed antennas, cannon hatches and drive components are particularly vulnerable. They are mirrored as much as possible, but they can’t be completely protected. Nuclear & conventional missiles: Specs: Nukes make bigger explosions, but they vaporize all shrapnel. They work much like a laser burst, except over a much larger surface area. Because of the inverse square law, they need to get extremely close before detonation in order to be effective. Conventional explosives are smaller, but manufactured to make as much shrapnel as possible. They are bulky and heavy, so carrying a large number of missiles is impractical. Uses: Nukes vaporize large portions of hull and shrapnel nets at once, they also take out a large part of the exposed parts that are vulnerable to lasers at once. If used first, it will vaporize the shrapnel nets and damage the mirror finish, making the ship extremely vulnerable to further attack. If used after the finish is already damaged, there is a good chance it will destroy or cripple the ship. Conventional explosives are packed with shrapnel in order to damage the mirror finish and hull integrity, making it much more vulnerable to laser and nuke damage. Defenses against: Distance. Missiles are the slowest moving weapons and require fuel, making them vulnerable to anti-missile fire from lasers. However, they have their own guidance and steerage system, so if return fire is disabled or overwhelmed, and they are within maximum range, they are the most likely to hit at a distance. Mirror finish, it can reflect a very large part of a nuke’s power. Shrapnel nets surrounding the hull prevent micrometeorites and conventional explosives from doing the damage required to make the hull vulnerable to light weapons. Notes: There are no shockwaves in space. All damage is done by radiation or shrapnel. Shrapnel nets are not actually nets, but a solid sheet of extremely tough fabric. They need to be solid in order to stop micrometeorites and prevent the smallest shrapnel from reaching the hull. They are mirrored, but because of the need for flexibility, the finish is not nearly as good as what can be put on the hull. Laser fire can easily penetrate them, and nuclear missiles can destroy them entirely. Relativistic cannons: Specs: Railguns that fire a metal “slug” at a significant fraction of the speed of light. They do not require explosives because the energy contained is trivial compared to the kinetic energy of the slug itself. The slugs are actually very thin, but very wide diameter discs fired so that the large flat surface impacts the target. They are flat because normally shaped shells of the same weight would pass completely through the ship without dissipating a significant portion of their energy. It is analogous to using hollow-point shells instead of armor-piercing ammo while hunting, and drag is not a problem in space. The shape also allows for easy and compact storage. Uses for: They are by far the most damaging weapon in the arsenal. They don’t require destruction of the shrapnel nets or mirror finish in order to be effective. One direct hit is all that is required. Defenses against: Random ship movements are even more effective against them than against lasers, because A. the cannon cannot sustain a continuous shot, B. there is a significant capacitor recharge time, and C. it must be shielded behind a mirrored hatch in order to protect against laser fire while it recharges. Distance. If it is fired from far enough away, a laser burst can hit and vaporize part of the disc, creating enough thrust to force it off course. The same could be done by redirecting a missile that has already been deployed and is a sufficient distance from the ship to deflect the slug enough. The slugs move slower than light-speed, so they are detectable, and the distances involved are usually great enough to allow response time, but they still move extremely fast, and interception is difficult. It is a death sentence to allow an enemy ship to get close enough to accurately use it’s railgun. The ship cannot have more than one or two cannons because the power required to fire the gun is much higher than that required for even the lasers. They require a large array of capacitors and have a recharge time of several minutes, even when they are fired at maximum speed for minimum damage. The capacitors are buried deep in the ship, but damage to one will disable the entire array. The gun hatch is vulnerable to shrapnel because the nets in the area are retractable, and to laser fire because the door seam catches the light the same way as pits in the finish. Notes: Ships can easily carry more ammo for the cannons than missiles due to weight. The cannons can be fired nearly as far out as the lasers, but due to it’s long recharge time, intercept potential, and lesser accuracy it is effectively a medium to short range weapon. Other notes: The mirror finish reflects the full spectrum. A mirrored hull also has the advantage of reducing the amount of solar radiation absorbed, which reduces the amount of energy the heat sinks and radiators need to dissipate during any battles that occur. Cannons and lasers almost never fire at even an appreciable fraction of their full power because the power output of the ship is divided between the weapons and ship systems. Additional power can be obtained by shutting down unnecessary systems and diverting the power to the weapons. Life support can even be shut down for several minutes until the air becomes foul enough to require turning it back on. The weapons can handle as much power as is diverted to them, even the full dedicated output of the ship’s power plant. More power recharges the capacitors faster, so more power means more damage up to the point where the capacitors max their charge, and after that point it only means faster firing times. Shutting down the ships engines long enough to boost fire rates is effectively a death sentence, though you will be able to get off a few shots. Ships are especially vulnerable to overheating during battle because of the difficulty of radiating heat into vacuum. The further from a star a battle takes place, the more likely it is to continue to the conclusion of destruction or crippling fire. Engaging in battle at point blank range is a death sentence for all parties involved, except in the case of a one-on-one. In that case, the first one to loose a shot will usually win.