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 Post subject: A niche for space fighters PostPosted: 2007-01-14 03:23pm
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It has been said time and again that space fighters simply make no sense.
This obviously creates a dilemma for any author who might (for whatever reason) want to use them in his story: fighters, or logic?

There appear to be three solutions to this dilemma.

1) Simply ignore it.
More a cop-out than a solution, but apparently the standard approach in existing works.
Needless to say that this is not exactly good writing, so we won't do it here.

2) Fiddle with physics until they make sense.
Just because space fighters and space cruisers are both spaceships doesn't mean they necessarily use the same technology; some things might simply not scale properly, thus creating a need for both big "ships" and small "fighters".
Getting this to work might be rather interesting... but not now. Maybe in a future thread; what I want to look at now is #3.

3) Find some other use, away from the battlefield, for which fighter-like ships appear suitable.
While this might seem futile at first, I believe I have actually been able to identify two (or one and a half).

a) Police vehicles
Consider:
-They will usually operate more or less close to a base, so their limited endurance is irrelevant
-They are not supposed to take on proper warships, so neither their relative fragility nor their rather light armament is a problem
-They are cheaper than aforementioned proper warships
-They can not realistically be replaced with missiles
The downside here is, of course, that story options are pretty limited; if you want the fighters to be a regular feature, you're pretty much limited to writing "traffic patrol... in space!".
Despite the recent popularity of cop shows, I have doubts whether anybody would care to read that.

b) Improvisations
This is the "one half" mentioned above, for reasons that should become obvious shortly.
A fighter-like, but unarmed, craft would, in my opinion, make a pretty snazzy upper-class toy; kinda like a private yacht, but probably more analogous to a jet ski.
When such a "space jet ski" is the only spacegoing craft you can get your hands on, and you're really, really desperate for some kind - any kind - of armed spaceship, it's not entirely unlikely that you might end up sticking guns on it, and hoping that no warship shows up before you've finished whatever you were doing, and left.
Of course, this has the same basic problem as option (a) - you could probably write about one, maybe two daring acts of desperation/rebellion/terrorism/piracy/whatever, but in the long run a story built around this type of fighter is just as unviable as the fighter itself.


At this point, it made "klick" in my head (although it took longer than I care to admit): in a sufficiently big and otherwise-occupied empire some "useless backwater systems" could easily be left without "proper" military protection, having to rely on their local police forces instead - who are equiped with fighters, because the budget doesn't allow anything better.
Similarly, the rebels/pirates/whatever are using fighters because that's the best they could get their grubby little fingers on.

Of course, the story potential is still limited - the moment the empire is done with whatever more important things it had to do, the rebels/... go down; so does the entire system if whatever was keeping the empire occupied should happen to take an interest in it; and out of universe, there's the question who wants to read about some insignificant backwater system at the ass-end of space that can't even afford an actual military.


Comments, suggestions, flames?

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 03:46pm
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Well, we could make it so that whereas missiles and torpedoes are way more damaging than missiles, we could have pilots in space fighters covering firing arcs not covered by the guns on a space ship.

Space fighters might be really only fighters meant to be deployed from high orbit into a planetary atmosphere, but are able to maneuver and fight along the way, although their primary purpose is to engage targets in a planetary atmosphere. In really really tough situations, a warship may disgorge its fightercraft just to deal more damage to the enemy - no matter how small this damage may be. When this happens, the enemy ship launches its own fighters (it can't be arsed to use its own guns against the oncoming fighters when it is dealing with the other warship).

Space fighters could be trained to spot and attack weak points in enemy ships, and missiles with robot brains would be too stupid for this.

Space fighters can deal significant damage (though not as much as capships) and can operate independently as scouts and such. Since they are smaller, they are more stealthier and can perform deep strikes (against targets that aren't capships). And since they're smarter then dumb robot-missiles, well, they can do a lot of stuff. Sure, a bigger ship can do more stuff, but why use a bigger ship when a smaller one can do the job as well? Why not use missiles for this? Well, the same reason why no one is replacing their capital ships with missiles hundreds of meters long.

If the verse is slightly nonsensical (like my own), then we could have fighters as a sort of...illogical thing that commonly happens in the 'verse. A romatic thinggy, like a knight. But in space. Warriors who intend to honourably duel with other such warrior fighter-pilots to determine the victor and the ace. This could be done in combat zones that aren't too intense (as in, zones with violent furballs between fighters but not so much on devastating capital ship warfare).

Technology could be so advanced that a single fighter is already quite deadly, capable of FTLing and long endurance and respectable damage. In this technologically really advanced verse, the capital warships would truly be something devastating.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 04:03pm
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Another possibility for viable fighters in space is to implement the same thing that makes fighters viable on Earth: they travel in a different dimension, and it's hard to make large objects travel in that same dimension. So a small one or two man fighter could be put in this other dimension but a warship can't. The fighter can use it's drive to fire its weapons out of this other dimension into real space, meanwhile capital ships would need to get PD guns equipped with the drive so that they can fire into the other dimension. You could also make fighters faster and more manoeuvrable by halving inertia or doubling c or something in the other dimension.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 04:43pm
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I generally use fighters as planetary support craft/base defense units; capships are better for interstellar fighting/power projection.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 05:00pm
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Shroom Man 777 wrote:
Well, we could make it so that whereas missiles and torpedoes are way more damaging than missiles, we could have pilots in space fighters covering firing arcs not covered by the guns on a space ship.

More like "non-attached turrets" than actual fighters, huh?
I'm not sure whether those would be manned; I'd imagine an automated combat drone to be perfectly sufficient (possibly even superior) for that job.
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Space fighters might be really only fighters meant to be deployed from high orbit into a planetary atmosphere, but are able to maneuver and fight along the way, although their primary purpose is to engage targets in a planetary atmosphere. In really really tough situations, a warship may disgorge its fightercraft just to deal more damage to the enemy - no matter how small this damage may be. When this happens, the enemy ship launches its own fighters (it can't be arsed to use its own guns against the oncoming fighters when it is dealing with the other warship).

Reinterpreting "space fighter" to mean a reentry-capable atmospheric fighter... I guess that's plausible, but I can't agree with the rest of the paragraph; this type of fighter would likely be a specialty item, only carried when atmospheric combat was expected; and the enemy ship will probably have enough secondary guns to take out what are essentially slower, less manouverable, and not entirely expendable missiles.
Quote:
Space fighters could be trained to spot and attack weak points in enemy ships, and missiles with robot brains would be too stupid for this.

While basically correct, that job would like require getting pretty close to the enemy ship.
Since fighters are necessarily slower, bigger, and less manouverable than expendable missiles, they would likely suffer horrifically from the enemy's point defense.
Quote:
Space fighters can deal significant damage (though not as much as capships) and can operate independently as scouts and such. Since they are smaller, they are more stealthier and can perform deep strikes (against targets that aren't capships). And since they're smarter then dumb robot-missiles, well, they can do a lot of stuff. Sure, a bigger ship can do more stuff, but why use a bigger ship when a smaller one can do the job as well? Why not use missiles for this? Well, the same reason why no one is replacing their capital ships with missiles hundreds of meters long.

"There is no stealth in space."
Good point on "they are cheap; why use a more expensive ship if a fighter is enough?", though I wonder what targets would be vulnerable enough.
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If the verse is slightly nonsensical (like my own), then we could have fighters as a sort of...illogical thing that commonly happens in the 'verse. A romatic thinggy, like a knight. But in space. Warriors who intend to honourably duel with other such warrior fighter-pilots to determine the victor and the ace. This could be done in combat zones that aren't too intense (as in, zones with violent furballs between fighters but not so much on devastating capital ship warfare).

Point.
Unfortunately, I'm pretty hung up about having the basics of the story make sense, so I'd rather drop fighters altogether than resort to this option.
Quote:
Technology could be so advanced that a single fighter is already quite deadly, capable of FTLing and long endurance and respectable damage. In this technologically really advanced verse, the capital warships would truly be something devastating.

Unfortunately, this does not address the relative power of fighters and "proper" warships; also, such a 'verse may well be able to harden even its non-military installations, bringing us back to the "no vulnerable targets" issue.

@Adrian Laguna: See Solution #2.
I was kinda hoping to save that for another thread (but I can put what I have so far into this thread, if you prefer).

montypython wrote:
I generally use fighters as planetary support craft/base defense units; capships are better for interstellar fighting/power projection.

But what advantage do they have over a "coast defense ship"?

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 05:04pm
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I do believe this has been done before. The general consensus was that fighters would be usless under a certain size as they would lack the fuel, payload and heavy weapons to be effective against capships while capships would be able to easily mount weapons that would devastate assaulting fighter formations.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 05:08pm
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Tasoth wrote:
I do believe this has been done before. The general consensus was that fighters would be usless under a certain size as they would lack the fuel, payload and heavy weapons to be effective against capships while capships would be able to easily mount weapons that would devastate assaulting fighter formations.
Sounds like *somebody* didn't even read the OP.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 05:11pm
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One thing I've tried was making the fighters little more than mobile point defense weapons. They go out between the opposing forces to start intercepting incoming antiship missiles from farther out than the ship's own weapons can do it.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 05:28pm
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It's always going to come down to special treatment somewhere. Fighters are inane in any realistic circumstance, so you're better off inventing some wierd physics (like alternate dimensions, or devices that only work on low-mass vessels, and so on) than actually grappling with them. Even if they can physically do the job, they're not efficent. A robot fighter would beat out a human-pilot one easily in terms of efficency, and they could also do harder maneuvering and would mass less.

To make a human-equipped fighter and so on, I like the idea of Knights getting special, inefficent technology just for the sake of being fancy. You could have an incredibly expensive uberfighter that would still be a joke in combat, but if starfighters were used as dueling vessels you could build stories around that. Say, like in ye olden days, that people do single combat to avoid mass fighting. You decide battles that way so that interplanetary warfare within members of the same collection of citystate-type nations don't carpet-nuke each other into the dark ages. That way you justify using fighters (the same way you could justify wars being decided by a game of checkers) but you don't need to invent a reason why they suddenly become magically effective.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 05:30pm
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A question is what is one's goal with having space fighters. If it is a desire for one-man craft and heroic individual pilots within the story, there are ways to satisfy it other than the conventional scenario of one-man fighters versus large capital ships with huge crews. The overall historical trend over millennia has been more hardware per individual person, from warriors with wood clubs to a couple pilots flying a 170ft-wingspan B2 bomber, as economic output has increased orders of magnitude.

With enough advanced technology, even a large space warship may not need to be jam-packed with huge numbers of crewmembers. Instead of having a huge amount of its volume be air-filled crew quarters, the bulk of its volume might be engines, weapons, and armor. Although unmanned automated ships are possible, there is sometimes potential benefit from having one or more humans onboard to command (or non-human sapient people, depending upon AI levels), to have greater creativity and adaptability to perform varied missions than non-sapient robotics. Such wouldn't exactly be space fighters. But they could be one-man craft of a sort, not like a ship with a thousand crewmembers.

For a story, there would still be some of the "romance" of one-man craft in that manner.

Of course, one can also come up with scenarios in which more people onboard is desirable, but a many-thousand-ton warship combining robotics with a single human commander or pilot is plausible. Such seems a little counterintuitive, to have so much hardware under the control of a single person, but I am sure a stone-age warrior on a canoe could have thought the same of the B-2 bomber of today.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 05:33pm
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I tend to go for a gunboat-type of approach to fighters in space. Their main purposes are scouting, delivering ordnance as precision strikes against bigger ships, patrolling and inspecting for example cargo ships and intercepting enemy gunboats.
The ships are big enough that the crew can conduct extended operations.
The crew is usually atleast three people. A captain, a comm/sensor operator and a gunner.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 08:04pm
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I don't see why you can't just use patcoms instead. Rather than have massive capital ships or itty bitty fighters, have something that is capable of medium endurance and is still agile enough to run rings round most ships, but also isn't simply a flying coffin.

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 Post subject: Re: A niche for space fighters PostPosted: 2007-01-14 08:30pm
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AMX wrote:
It has been said time and again that space fighters simply make no sense.
This obviously creates a dilemma for any author who might (for whatever reason) want to use them in his story: fighters, or logic?

There appear to be three solutions to this dilemma.

1) Simply ignore it.
More a cop-out than a solution, but apparently the standard approach in existing works.
Needless to say that this is not exactly good writing, so we won't do it here.


You can get away with it if the story is good enough. Star Wars certainly did (interestingly, in the films, fighters actually play a very limited military role, except in special circumstances). But you seem more interested in doing it realistically, so let's look at your other options.

Quote:
2) Fiddle with physics until they make sense.
Just because space fighters and space cruisers are both spaceships doesn't mean they necessarily use the same technology; some things might simply not scale properly, thus creating a need for both big "ships" and small "fighters".
Getting this to work might be rather interesting... but not now. Maybe in a future thread; what I want to look at now is #3.


Playing with physics doesn't actually get you anywhere, since whatever wonky things you to do to make fighters work will also make unmanned missiles much more effective.

Quote:
3) Find some other use, away from the battlefield, for which fighter-like ships appear suitable.
While this might seem futile at first, I believe I have actually been able to identify two (or one and a half).

a) Police vehicles
Consider:
-They will usually operate more or less close to a base, so their limited endurance is irrelevant
-They are not supposed to take on proper warships, so neither their relative fragility nor their rather light armament is a problem
-They are cheaper than aforementioned proper warships
-They can not realistically be replaced with missiles
The downside here is, of course, that story options are pretty limited; if you want the fighters to be a regular feature, you're pretty much limited to writing "traffic patrol... in space!".
Despite the recent popularity of cop shows, I have doubts whether anybody would care to read that.


This is where you start running into problems with the definition of words. Real-life fighters don't do police patrol and interdiction work. What you've just described is basically a Coast Guard cutter in space. Why not just call it a cutter? And a one-man police vessel won't be very effective, since it limits your options when dealing with suspicious traffic to "shoot them down" or "let them go". Cutters have crews that can board and inspect suspicious ships. They can also do safety inspections and conduct rescues, both operations which, again, would be impossible for a one-man craft. And since they're larger, you can arm them more heavily. Realistically, if there's going to be space commerce, it's going to be bulk transport, meaning big ships which are already so massive that the mass of a few weapons to swat down "fighters" will be more or less a rounding error. They'll also be so big that a fighter might not be able to carry weapons heavy enough to disable it without being so heavy the target is completely destroyed.

Then there are the problems of carrying enough fuel and propellant to be good for anything away from a larger base. Remember that a manned fighter will never--never--be able to outrange a missile launched from the same mothership or base, so if you're limited to operating close to a base, you might as well have the base armed with missiles and boarding shuttles and to hell with the fighters. If they come within fighter range of the base, they're already deep inside its weapons range, so the base itself could observe its actions and order it to "heave to and prepare to be boarded" without risking a pilot and a spacecraft.

Quote:
b) Improvisations
This is the "one half" mentioned above, for reasons that should become obvious shortly.
A fighter-like, but unarmed, craft would, in my opinion, make a pretty snazzy upper-class toy; kinda like a private yacht, but probably more analogous to a jet ski.
When such a "space jet ski" is the only spacegoing craft you can get your hands on, and you're really, really desperate for some kind - any kind - of armed spaceship, it's not entirely unlikely that you might end up sticking guns on it, and hoping that no warship shows up before you've finished whatever you were doing, and left.
Of course, this has the same basic problem as option (a) - you could probably write about one, maybe two daring acts of desperation/rebellion/terrorism/piracy/whatever, but in the long run a story built around this type of fighter is just as unviable as the fighter itself.


Why not just crash the jet ski into the enemy? Whatever weapons you could mount on such a light craft wouldn't pack the same punch as the craft's own kinetic energy.

Quote:
At this point, it made "klick" in my head (although it took longer than I care to admit): in a sufficiently big and otherwise-occupied empire some "useless backwater systems" could easily be left without "proper" military protection, having to rely on their local police forces instead - who are equiped with fighters, because the budget doesn't allow anything better.
Similarly, the rebels/pirates/whatever are using fighters because that's the best they could get their grubby little fingers on.

Of course, the story potential is still limited - the moment the empire is done with whatever more important things it had to do, the rebels/... go down; so does the entire system if whatever was keeping the empire occupied should happen to take an interest in it; and out of universe, there's the question who wants to read about some insignificant backwater system at the ass-end of space that can't even afford an actual military.


While I think you're barking up the wrong tree trying to shoehorn space fighters into a story, there's plenty of story potential in a backwater making do with what it has. Consider it this way: the vast majority of stories that have ever been written have been set on modern Earth or earlier, and modern Earth would be a barbarous backwater by the standards of even most hard sci-fi. Don't get hung up on the idea that all anyone wants to read about are grand empires at their very height. People want to read a good story in an interesting setting. You can make a backwater interesting and the imperial capital boring. To take one example, the entire Star Wars OT was set, with the exception of the five minute scene in which Alderaan was destroyed, in the galactic backwater. Much of the PT took place on Coruscant. Which trilogy do you think most Star Wars fans prefer?



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 08:55pm
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Shroom Man 777 wrote:
Well, we could make it so that whereas missiles and torpedoes are way more damaging than missiles, we could have pilots in space fighters covering firing arcs not covered by the guns on a space ship.


And you think a human pilot will have the reaction time to hit an incoming missile with, all other things being equal, four times his vessel's delta-V and a higher thrust to weight ratio? The only way he'll even have a chance is if he's launched on an intercept vector towards an oncoming missile, and if you're doing that, you might as well just build an anti-missile missile to do the same job more effectively at a fraction the price.

Quote:
Space fighters might be really only fighters meant to be deployed from high orbit into a planetary atmosphere, but are able to maneuver and fight along the way, although their primary purpose is to engage targets in a planetary atmosphere.


We just had a thread where it was pretty conclusively settled that trying to make an atmospheric fighter an effective space combatant, or vice versa, will only make it bad at its job in both mediums.

Quote:
In really really tough situations, a warship may disgorge its fightercraft just to deal more damage to the enemy - no matter how small this damage may be. When this happens, the enemy ship launches its own fighters (it can't be arsed to use its own guns against the oncoming fighters when it is dealing with the other warship).


Why would a warship waste the space and mass to carry fighters to begin with, when a dedicated planetary assault carrier (assuming planetary assault is a viable mission at all) would do the same job much better without making real capital ships less effective? Never mind the ridiculous idea that guns designed to swat down missiles couldn't effortlessly annihilate atmospheric fighters being pressed into space combat duty.

Quote:
Space fighters could be trained to spot and attack weak points in enemy ships, and missiles with robot brains would be too stupid for this.


Hooray for bald-faced assertions without a whisper of proof! And anyway, even assuming computers aren't smart enough to find a weak point, what's stopping weapons operators on capital ships from targeting their missiles at these weak points?

Quote:
Space fighters can deal significant damage (though not as much as capships) and can operate independently as scouts and such.


No, actually, they can't, since they can't carry enough propellant to operate far from resupply.

Quote:
Since they are smaller, they are more stealthier and can perform deep strikes (against targets that aren't capships).


The space shuttle's main engines, which generate nowhere near the thrust any conceivable useful space war vessel of any kind, could be spotted from Pluto. With modern equipment. Stealth in space is just as big a brainbug as fighters.

Quote:
And since they're smarter then dumb robot-missiles, well, they can do a lot of stuff.


Another bald-faced assumption with no proof. I also like how you narrowly define "stuff". What stuff? Jerking off in the cockpit? I admit a missile couldn't do that, but I don't see the military value in it.

Quote:
Sure, a bigger ship can do more stuff, but why use a bigger ship when a smaller one can do the job as well? Why not use missiles for this? Well, the same reason why no one is replacing their capital ships with missiles hundreds of meters long.


Because of course, there's no possible size of vessel between "humongous battleship" and "P-51 in space", right? Fighters do four things in the real world: strike missions, air superiority, escort, and recon. Strike missions are better done by missiles, space superiority will be achieved by capital ships, fighters will be as useless in battle as escorts, and recon can be done by telescopes, drones, or, if you absolutely positively must have a human in the loop, an unarmed scout, since the weapons will waste mass without realistically improving its chances in combat.

Quote:
If the verse is slightly nonsensical (like my own), then we could have fighters as a sort of...illogical thing that commonly happens in the 'verse. A romatic thinggy, like a knight. But in space. Warriors who intend to honourably duel with other such warrior fighter-pilots to determine the victor and the ace. This could be done in combat zones that aren't too intense (as in, zones with violent furballs between fighters but not so much on devastating capital ship warfare).


If goofy, contrived situations which make fighters useful because the author thinks they're kewl are your thing, go right ahead. They can even be done well, though the three best examples I can think of, Star Wars, BSG, and Wing Commander all just ignore logic completely and depend on the story/gameplay to carry the day.

Quote:
Technology could be so advanced that a single fighter is already quite deadly, capable of FTLing and long endurance and respectable damage. In this technologically really advanced verse, the capital warships would truly be something devastating.


So would missiles. Just because you've thrown relativity out the window doesn't mean the fundamental advantages of missiles over manned fighters are reduced one iota.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 09:40pm
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RedImperator wrote:
This is where you start running into problems with the definition of words. Real-life fighters don't do police patrol and interdiction work. What you've just described is basically a Coast Guard cutter in space. Why not just call it a cutter? And a one-man police vessel won't be very effective, since it limits your options when dealing with suspicious traffic to "shoot them down" or "let them go". Cutters have crews that can board and inspect suspicious ships. They can also do safety inspections and conduct rescues, both operations which, again, would be impossible for a one-man craft. And since they're larger, you can arm them more heavily.


This brings to mind the cutters from Alastair Reynold's Redemption Ark. They belonged an authoritarian government called the Ferrisville Convention and were crewed by a single cyborg pilot crammed inside a life-support module. For boarding purposes, they carried a number of tele-operated "proxies" which could jet across once the target ship had surrendered and operate the airlock controls or otherwise force entry.



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 Post subject: Re: A niche for space fighters PostPosted: 2007-01-14 10:16pm
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AMX wrote:
a) Police vehicles
Consider:
-They will usually operate more or less close to a base, so their limited endurance is irrelevant
-They are not supposed to take on proper warships, so neither their relative fragility nor their rather light armament is a problem
-They are cheaper than aforementioned proper warships
-They can not realistically be replaced with missiles
The downside here is, of course, that story options are pretty limited; if you want the fighters to be a regular feature, you're pretty much limited to writing "traffic patrol... in space!".
Despite the recent popularity of cop shows, I have doubts whether anybody would care to read that.

Well, for a police role, it would make more sense to have something like a PT boat or a Coast Guard vessel.

But I'm sure 99.9% of the SF readers would rather read about a spacecraft version of TOP GUN as opposed to McHale's Navy.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 10:22pm
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I personally don't think there's anything wrong with 'just ignore the problems'. If you're not writing hard scifi, who cares? And if you're writing hard scifi, put your dick back in your pants and accept that fighters are stupid.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-14 11:22pm
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Shroom Man 777 wrote:
Space fighters could be trained to spot and attack weak points in enemy ships, and missiles with robot brains would be too stupid for this.


This is the approach I am going for in the Battletech universe. The pilots would be able to perform critical attacks on an enemy ship, as missile technology just goes after the big target.

A fighter offers tactical choices after launch, while missiles (in Battletech) don't. So a missile would try to impact the armor, while a fighter might go around the enemy ship, and hit the weakened armor on the other side, or do attacks on critical structures (shooting debris into the weapon mounts to make them turn slower, or interfere with their aim). Actual damage from fighter weapons would not be enough to seriously affect a warship's armor. (this is all IMHO for Aerotech, which currently has fighters as death in space for any large ship)

Essentially losing the potential maneuverability and acceleration of the platform and provide intelligence in return. (Of course, once the missile intelligence is decent enough, the fighters would be retired as they simply aren't maneuverable enough to survive)



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-15 12:33am
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The space-fighter-as-police-vehicle was the approach that Cowboy Bebop took.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-15 12:38am
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In the 'verse I write in, fighters are used more as communication hubs to direct smart munitions from a point where speed of light lag will not affect them as much as it would if all communications were handled by the capital ship.
They are called fighters just because they two manned small craft. They are armed with light laserlances and smartmissile pods and some designs have a keelmount plasma weapon for direct fire anti-capship work at 2 lightseconds or less range.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-15 01:19am
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I was considering this, fleets of small, low cost, Unmanned drones armed with a light point defense weapon with a high acceleration due to a proportionally large reactor sent ahead of a wall of battle to take a chunk out of enemy missile swarms before they got inside the point defense evelope of the wall of battle, as well as take out oncomming drones of similer design.

Zor



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-15 01:28am
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Stormin wrote:
In the 'verse I write in, fighters are used more as communication hubs to direct smart munitions from a point where speed of light lag will not affect them as much as it would if all communications were handled by the capital ship.


That strikes me as somewhat odd. Why wouldn't you simply have all the coordination and targetting either done at launch or by onboard computer systems on the munitions? The only thing a manned craft could have that a missile can't is people, and when it comes to targetting, coordinating, and intercepting missiles, computers are more reliable than people anyway. Is there any benefit to this that I'm missing?

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-15 01:51am
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The computing and flight plan is done at launch and on the fly, but many battles have the ships at 20 light seconds distant meaning up to 40 second lag time.
Situations can change enough in that time to warrent having a fighter much closer (far enough away that it's manuvering allows it to avoid being plinked out of the sky right off the bat) for processing power and command level decision making.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-15 01:58am
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Manned space fighters dont make sense. But realistic space combat is horribly boring and in the end still unrealistic because no one knows the future. So I personaly like it more when stories dont pretend to be realistic when they are not and instead includes whatever is fun. Only thing that matters is it should be self consistant and not contradict itself for creating stupid plot devices. So I think it's better not to make a vain attempt to write about "accurate" future society and their warfare. No one will ever get it remotely right and the restrictions imposed by keeping it realistic just increases the chances of it being very boring.

So I say go with option 1) outlined in the OP instead coming up with an explanations for space fighters that will still have flaws in it.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-01-15 02:14am
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Destructionator XIII wrote:
Zor wrote:
I was considering this, fleets of small, low cost, Unmanned drones *snip*

Why not just use a counter-missile for that?


The prospect of salvaging drones, there ability to potentionally take out more than one missile, range at which they can strike against missile swarms and ability to take down enemy fighters as well.

Zor



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