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 Post subject: Proposing Sensible Ground Military Equipment in SW PostPosted: 2007-01-03 05:26am
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I was reading Bob Brown's site the other day and him talking about the "good old days" of speculation vis-a-vis SW before the EU filled-in the gaps often with shitty, counterinuitive or antilogical explanations. And since these kind of thought experiments are done in PST all the time, I thought maybe some proposals and discussion of pros and cons of various concepts could be brought about here, especially amongst the techies like Mad and Ender, etc.

One idea I have is that, presuming that SW can produce pure-fusion nuclear weapons, it should be a simple matter to have airburst missiles to prepare landing zones and drive the enemy into cover or hiding. Nuclear warheads have a bad reputation IRL, but in SW typical construction on industrialized, significantly populated planets is probably resistant to overpressure similar to modern warheads except much closer to the hypocenter than IRL. What qualifies as a hardened target in SW, like turbolaser emplacements or parked starships may in many cases be largely unscathed even by low-megaton-range airbursts. With pure-fusion warheads, the radioactivity of airbursts will be negligible and presumably even troops that aren't totally sealed in NBC gear like Stormtroopers should be able to land (even though they, as the Imperial Marines, presumably always land and secure first, before Army moves in the heavy gear).

In response to this idea, likely implications suggest that surface military tactics focus heavily on preventing penetration of active and passive planetary defenses (ground-based, anti-orbital artillery and shield grids), to prevent landings in the first place, and failing that to fallback on hardened defenses and shelters located within areas of dense population and/or near loci of valuable resources, to discourage the use of dominating heavy weaponry which would class as WMD in the presence of sensitive resources or population. I'd expect a lot of heavy static defenses: small local shields as they appear in the Rogue Squadron games, heavy fixed weapons emplacements, dug-in troops using street-to-street and mining tactics, etc.



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Last edited by Illuminatus Primus on 2007-01-03 05:31am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 05:31am
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Given the enormous power which starships and artillery can apply to any desired target, I would tend to suspect that realistic warfare will tend to either involve a huge amount of collateral damage or some kind of asymmetric warfare in which huge numbers of occupying troops are the key element rather than any fantastic weapon system.

The ability to carpet-nuke the enemy with low-fallout warheads would be neat, but it seems unlikely that you'd really run into that many situations where you could use it. In the situations where HQ has so little concern for collateral damage, I'd tend to think they'd just be telling you to bombard the fuck out of the place from orbit.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 05:35am
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Darth Wong wrote:
Given the enormous power which starships and artillery can apply to any desired target, I would tend to suspect that realistic warfare will tend to either involve a huge amount of collateral damage or some kind of asymmetric warfare in which huge numbers of occupying troops are the key element rather than any fantastic weapon system.

The ability to carpet-nuke the enemy with low-fallout warheads would be neat, but it seems unlikely that you'd really run into that many situations where you could use it. In the situations where HQ has so little concern for collateral damage, I'd tend to think they'd just be telling you to bombard the fuck out of the place from orbit.


Well, I meant mostly clearing landing zones before the ships touch down. But consider this: within populated areas, in sufficiently sized and dense cities (by SW standards), and also considering the fantastic toughness of their construction, I think it could be argued that in some cases use of, say kiloton-range airbursts as suppression weapons might be rationalized as a scale analogy to the use of white phosphorus, napalm, and cluster bombs by U.S. forces in Fallujah for much the same reasons. I think orbital bombardment is like dropping a nuke on Fallujah, whereas this is useful for suppressing enemy movements and organization and while controversial may slide in some cases.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 09:25am
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Could proton torpedo or diamond boron warheads be used for the fire support roles you're describing, Illuminatus Prime?

Assuming that the yield of the proton torpedoes or diamond boron warheads are appropriately scaled up/down as the situation demands. I'm not sure about the radiation output from diamond boron weaponry, but the radioactive fallout from proton torpedoes seems to be so negligible that no one thinks twice about using proton grenades in demolition work like with the Endor Shield Bunker.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 09:40am
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Diamond boron missles are basicaly high-yield proton torpedoes that aren't destroyed easily by laser fire.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 04:19pm
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Based on the old AT-AT thread and the general Hoth discussion that ensued, I want a rolling MLRS to round out the ground combat complement of an ISD. Blasters are fine for most situations, but they appear to be limited to line-of-sight, and your forces should have at least one type of indirect-fire weapon at their disposal.

Next time there's a Hoth-like situation of wanting to capture an installation which includes a theater shield, roll that sucker under the edge and have it hit the generator from a hundred miles away. Then send in the TIE bombers and troop shuttles.

EDIT: Aren't artillery shells usually harder to hit than missiles? Mayhap the Empire could use some sort of actual shell-firing artillery somewhere in it's inventory?



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 04:29pm
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LordShaithis wrote:
Based on the old AT-AT thread and the general Hoth discussion that ensued, I want a rolling MLRS to round out the ground combat complement of an ISD.


You mean like the Banking Clan Hailfire droids?



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 Post subject: Re: Proposing Sensible Ground Military Equipment in SW PostPosted: 2007-01-03 04:38pm
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Illuminatus Primus wrote:
One idea I have is that, presuming that SW can produce pure-fusion nuclear weapons, it should be a simple matter to have airburst missiles to prepare landing zones and drive the enemy into cover or hiding.


They featured a somewhat similar weapon in Dark Lord (on a smaller scale though). During the assault on Murkhana, some sort of concussive feedback weaponry/missiles were launched at the droids on the gunship's LZ and bursted before ground contact. IIRC it disabled or destroyed droids within a 50 meter radius.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 04:47pm
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LordShaithis wrote:
EDIT: Aren't artillery shells usually harder to hit than missiles? Mayhap the Empire could use some sort of actual shell-firing artillery somewhere in it's inventory?


Presumably, missles are easier to hit because they emit homing signals. Shells packed with high explosives would not and would be impossible to target electronically (signal location; radar and stuff still would work). Good idea.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 04:47pm
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LordShaithis wrote:
EDIT: Aren't artillery shells usually harder to hit than missiles? Mayhap the Empire could use some sort of actual shell-firing artillery somewhere in it's inventory?


Presumably, missles are easier to hit because they emit homing signals. Shells packed with high explosives would not and would be impossible to target electronically (signal location; radar and stuff still would work). Good idea.



Conversion Table:

2000 Mockingbirds = 2 Kilomockingbirds
Basic Unit of Laryngitis = 1 Hoarsepower
453.6 Graham Crackers = 1 Pound Cake
1 Kilogram of Falling Figs - 1 Fig Newton
Time Between Slipping on a Banana Peel and Smacking the Pavement = 1 Bananosecond
Half of a Large Intestine = 1 Semicolon

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 04:48pm
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Illuminatus Primus wrote:
In response to this idea, likely implications suggest that surface military tactics focus heavily on preventing penetration of active and passive planetary defenses (ground-based, anti-orbital artillery and shield grids), to prevent landings in the first place, and failing that to fallback on hardened defenses and shelters located within areas of dense population and/or near loci of valuable resources, to discourage the use of dominating heavy weaponry which would class as WMD in the presence of sensitive resources or population.


Yes. That doesn't tend to be shown well in SW. In Star Wars, there are battles like the droids vs. Gungans fighting away from cities in TPM, the clones vs. droid engagement in a desert in AOTC, and so on with some EU battles. I know someone could make up explanations, but such would tend to be convoluted and artificial to cover all sides in all relevant cases. Indeed, some battles have masses of closely-packed troops or droid infantry shooting at each other while standing or marching in open terrain. Such look cool but don't even resemble well most post-WWI combat, let alone a world where there isn't a political situation preventing tactical nuke usage.

There is no minimum yield for a nuke with the right technology. (For example, fission tactical nukes made with today's technology are relatively impractical or at least wasteful if designed for too small yield, but critical mass doesn't apply at all to a pure fusion device). Even sub-kiloton weapons could be useful, like a soldier able to fire rounds of 1-ton yield, 10-ton yield, 100-ton yield, or whatever was appropriate depending upon the targets. Groups of enemy troops foolish enough to be close together in the middle of nowhere would tend to vanish into large craters and fireballs tens to hundreds of feet in diameter. Adjustable yield would allow rounds to kill most infantry in the open within an approximate area like 100-meters or 500-meters in diameter, while blast and radiation would drop towards less destructive intensity by a few times greater distance, in addition to how many structures might be very resistant. In the GFFA, vehicles with such weapons could drive under theater shields to quickly deal with situations where the shield was stopping orbital fire support (which would relate to what LordShaithis already suggested), though in a more hard sci-fi scenario that wouldn't even be necessary due to no shields to stop space weapondry.

Illuminatus Primus wrote:
But consider this: within populated areas, in sufficiently sized and dense cities (by SW standards), and also considering the fantastic toughness of their construction, I think it could be argued that in some cases use of, say kiloton-range airbursts as suppression weapons might be rationalized as a scale analogy to the use of white phosphorus, napalm, and cluster bombs by U.S. forces in Fallujah for much the same reasons. I think orbital bombardment is like dropping a nuke on Fallujah, whereas this is useful for suppressing enemy movements and organization and while controversial may slide in some cases.


While I mostly utterly agree with you, it is worth pointing out that there is nothing in principle preventing even pinpoint orbital bombardment with the right technology, like a precise computerized system where a soldier could click a designator at an enemy position a few hundred yards away to have it converted into a crater a second later from a tracking beam weapon from a space warship overhead.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 05:02pm
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LordShaithis wrote:
EDIT: Aren't artillery shells usually harder to hit than missiles? Mayhap the Empire could use some sort of actual shell-firing artillery somewhere in it's inventory?


I mentioned this before and you didn't take kindly to it, but the technology is within our grasp by a few years to develop laser-based anti-artillery systems.

http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/missile_systems/systems/THEL.html

If the Empire or Rebellion couldn't develop superior, mobile versions of this system, I'd be pretty suprised. If they were those diamond-tipped boron suckers or lobbed in such volume that they couldn't all be stopped, the story might be different.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 05:16pm
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SW has both missile and shell artillery, although it's obscure and relegated to a few sources (every ground vehicle that's not an AT-AT or AT-ST is).

In Force Commander, the Rebels had a tracked mobile proton torpedo launcher, while the Imperials had light and heavy repulsorlift guns. In Empire at War, the Rebels have a mk. 2 version of their mobile proton torpedo launcher.

During the Clone Wars, the Separatists had the aforementioned Hailfire droids, and the Republic had some SPHA units armed projectile cannons, as shown in the Clone Wars cartoon.

EDIT: fixed link



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 05:18pm
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Master_Baerne wrote:
Presumably, missles are easier to hit because they emit homing signals. Shells packed with high explosives would not and would be impossible to target electronically (signal location; radar and stuff still would work). Good idea.


This is mostly just a nitpick, but, at least in the real-world today, the main difference would be that missiles tend to be larger and have a lesser ratio of size relative to speed, with defenses using radar or IR for targeting rather than expecting the missiles to have signal emissions. Such is a more extreme version of how it is harder to hit a 1-cm Mach 1 bullet in flight than to hit a 10-meter Mach 1 aircraft. Still, there is not an absolute difference between artillery shells and missiles, and artillery shells can be guided munitions.

As implied by TithonusSyndrome, hypothetical future real-world technology might allow effective interception of a lot of artillery shells, as well as missiles. Still, any defense can be defeated in some manner, whether by overwhelming it with saturation attacks or by other means. For example, if the Empire had been better prepared for Hoth with the right tactics, they could have had TIEs on ground transports roll under the shield barrier, then take off to eliminate the shield generator, helping out ground forces capturing the people in the base. If the situation was instead hard sci-fi technology only, the preceding tactic wouldn't apply, as there would be no shield to prevent pinpoint beam weapon strikes from warships in space ... which, as implied in my last post, means that any groups of closely-packed enemy soldiers spotted far out in the open would tend to quickly disappear into large explosions.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-03 06:14pm
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Shields appear to interfere with flying equipment under their extent. The AOTC ICS suggests flying vehicles have trouble penetrating shield perimeters. And volumetric particle shields may interfere with ion engines within their extent as well. Still, there should be a greater role for missile support and repulsorlift air support being towed or carried into the shield.

Because SW slug-throwing technology easily permits practical mass-drivers, many of the principles driving current gun technology vanish. There are no longer significant principles involving anything but caliber (and sub-caliber rounds as submunitions within larger shells and encased in sabots circumvent many of those concerns). Pressure loads from chemical propellants in a cartridge are not longer a concern, only the power delivered to accelerate the projectile. A single gun can easily perform fill the functions of the modern howitzer, mortar, and line-of-sight fire support guns with different ammunition, acceleration, and elevation alone.

And hey, this is proposing ideas for "off-screen" or possible technology and tactics within the SW canon. We don't need to turn this into a critique for all the dumb or anachronistic shit in SW and how hard sci-fi would make more sense.

The lack of heavy artillery support and missiles and the abundance of blaster weaponry suggests that projectiles are easily intercepted in SW ground combat or shield technology interferes which many of them. The only missile system we see canonically is the Hellfire Droids, which are similar to TOW vehicles and other ATGM-carrier modern tank destroyers, with top-down aspect attack and their wild jinking paths and close-range engagement range strongly suggests adept interception technology.

The mention of dial-a-yield pure-fusion weapons is interesting. Again, we enter the situation where ground troops probably avoid open combat outside built-up, populated, or hardened areas for this exact reason. It also explains the universal tactical doctrine of all troops being transported in hardened APCs of some kind (MTTs, AT-TEs, and AT-ATs), since they are highly vulnerable to easily available weaponry until within close engagement range.

I think the biggest deviations from "expectations" of modern combat and hard sci-fi are: shield technology, collateral damage concerns (as Wong underscores), and projectile-interception technology strongly implied by a weak projectile artillery support and Hellfire Droid tactics.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-13 05:20pm
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Anyone got any new thoughts?



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-13 07:08pm
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I'll have to take screengrabs, but one thing I noticed from the AOTC trailer way back when was that the LAAT/i missiles appeared to be able to recognize that their initial target was destroyed and then retarget on-the-fly.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-13 08:18pm
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Given established AI technology in the SW universe, they should be able to make the jump from smart missiles to genius missiles. I'm thinking of a platform that dumps huge numbers of missiles and drones into a battlefield. Each missile employs various stealth technologies and techniques such as flying close to the ground, jinking flight patterns, etc. The missiles identify targets based on their mission programming and then attack autonomously.

Of course, you don't want to make the missiles too smart. The last thing you'd want is a neurotic missile.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-13 10:21pm
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There is no reason any AI needs to the capacity to be neurotic, even if it is a stable genius at whatever it does. The problem is that in StarWars they tend to pack things full of useless features. Witness the Trade Federation Battledroids or the big artillery beams with the goofy walking legs rather than treads.

You could end up with a neurotic missile in StarWars because the Trade Federation, or whatever, thinks it is a good feature to have chatty ordinance.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 01:21am
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Gil Hamilton wrote:
You could end up with a neurotic missile in StarWars because the Trade Federation, or whatever, thinks it is a good feature to have chatty ordinance.

Cue Woody Allen: voice actor for the new Star Wars TV show.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 04:52am
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Darth Wong wrote:
Cue Woody Allen: voice actor for the new Star Wars TV show.


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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 07:59am
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Not only has SW shown us intelligent missiles but it also has intelligent shrapnel: Buzz droids. :P



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 09:51am
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If your missiles get too intelligent, you end up qith something like:

Dark Star wrote:
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Bomb#20: You are false data.
Pinback: Hmmm?
Bomb #20: Therefore I shall ignore you.
Pinback: Hello... bomb?
Bomb #20: False data can act only as a distraction. Therefore, I shall refuse to perceive.
Pinback: Hey, bomb?
Bomb #20: The only thing that exists is myself.
Pinback: Snap out of it, bomb.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 11:05am
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Droid Rights Activists Decry Brilliant Missiles

MID RIM NODE - The Coalition of Automaton Rights Activists has issued a decree criticizing Arakyd Industries for their latest model of Vindicator XM-15 "brilliant" missiles, saying that the central processor is so advanced as to be considered sentient. "This is far beyond a mindless battle droid," read the statement. "These are thinking, feeling sapient entities doomed to an explosive demise, which is nothing short of an abomination." The Coalition's approach is considerably more restrained than similar sentiments expressed by the more radical Mechanical Liberation Front, who attempted to "free" a shipment of Vindicator XM-15s and ended up destroying a 25-kilometer radius of Havridam City on New Bakstre last month, killing all 14 activists.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 11:09am
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:lol: Good to know some people think of that stuff other than us ...



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