Simon_Jester wrote: ↑
This sounds brilliant assuming you can in fact hide effective anti-capital weaponry in deep space. To put it mildly, this assumption is not
widely accepted among science fiction fans; indeed the opposite assumption ("there is no stealth in space") often holds.
If there's no stealth in space, that just makes things worse. Now you're trying to turtle in front of a big gun that you know is there. Killing your own mobility and ability to see when you know the enemy has a gun capable of cutting through your armor is always going to be a bad idea.
Furthermore, it would hardly be unprecedented for it to be harder for a unit to defend itself against combined-arms attacks by multiple threat categories than by either threat category alone. In real life, tanks and infantry coordinate for exactly this reason; tanks ARE "buttoned-up" and lacking in situational awareness compared to infantrymen, but are correspondingly much more resistant to enemy fire and carry more powerful weapons. The infantry screen the tanks from, say, sneaky bastards with sacks of dynamite, while the tanks pound enemy machine gun nests and bunkers into submission while fending off enemy tanks.
In real life, tank drivers often sit with their heads outside of hatches to increase situational awareness and environmental comfort, but this is obviously not viable during combat. If it were a common threat for flocks of quadcopters with machine guns to swoop in and strafe tanks, you can bet that the tank commanders would button up whenever they thought a drone attack likely, even if their tanks were armed with, say, a "point defense" minigun. And a solution like "escort the tanks with specialist AA vehicles" would also be a likely solution in real life.
You're taking the tank analogy a little too far here, plus, if the infantry can't sneak/hide/take cover, due to there not being stealth in space, that just means that infantry get machine gunned down before they get close. You can't talk up combined arms in one breath and argue that the biggest enabler of it doesn't exist with the next.
Not that there are combined arms in space. Unlike a modern navy, a 'space fighter' traverses the same medium as the capital ships and escorts. This makes a fighter more like a torpedo boat than anything and we haven't seen those attempted since World War II because destroyers and light cruisers were just so efficient at killing them. You can argue that a fighter would have more engine mass than a torpedo boat would and thus could evade incoming fire but if that holds you've created a scenario where missiles lobbed at a distance are the order of the day until PD can ramp up to match it.
Smaller ships remain mobile, aware, and alert, and may be able to relay targeting information.
Secondary sensor arrays of lesser resolution and sensitivity may remain exposed.
Why wouldn't you operate the other way around, run your primary sensors until they get shot off and then rely on secondary systems to get you out of the fight?
It may be relatively difficult to time and organize a battle so that the enemy's capital ships are having to deal with BOTH your capital ships in their optimum engagement range AND your small craft attacks at the same time, and getting the timing wrong opens you to defeat in detail.
If there's no stealth in space why did you blunder into the enemy's optimal range? Plus, if you're within fighter range, you've been well within missile range for a while now as a missile with similar mass to a fighter will have at least double the range because a fighter has to have enough fuel to get to combat and get back home, likely the missile will have even more range than that because a fighter needs to use fuel to fight once it reaches its engagement. If the missiles would get shot down on the way in so to would the fighters if they aren't being shot down, why bother with fighters at all?
The enemy may have an arsenal of light weaponry aboard other, specialized combatants that can lay waste to your small craft, making it irrelevant that their 'juggernaut' anti-capital platforms have no direct defense in and of themselves.
If you have good defense screens you don't need to turtle, if you don't have good screens every ship in your fleet needs active defenses. Look at WWII where defenses weren't so good as they are now, even a carrier bristled with AA guns. Now, they carry a far lighter defensive armament because nothing is expected to get through. If something does get through the fleet is either sunk or more of the same defenses wouldn't have changed the outcome.
Q99 wrote: ↑
The thing you aren't really getting is in a hypothetical story, you get to make up the flaws, advantages, disadvantages, and tradeoffs.
These 'other flaws' your opening are ones you're assuming based on other setting's paradigms. "But that'll make you blind yourself"- well yea, and the Monitor had to turn it's turret away from it's opponent to protect itself even though that took eyes off target in it's famous duel. Battles have tradeoffs. Not wanting to have a disadvantage is really great, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work as a combat paradigm, it means that in that combat paradigm people have to deal with tradeoffs.
"Ah, but what if someone doesn't have those disadvantages?" Well then they're not from this combat paradigm/technology base and they don't have it's advantages either and aren't fighting with this tech base.
Your story and technology still have to make sense though and they don't.
Even your one example shows that a single ship of questionable at best design may have done a thing. Though based on everything I've read she never purposefully turned her turret away to avoid incoming fire. She did suffer damage that made stopping her turret accurately difficult so the crew made the choice to keep the turret rotating and fire as the CSS Virginia came into view rather than trying to lay the turret on target normally with a faulty drive. Even had she turned her turret away to protect her guns while they reloaded, she didn't blind herself by doing so as her pilot's house could still sight the enemy. The ships involved in the battle you cited were also an untested prototype up against a hastily rebuild vessel, neither side was a naval power, and during the battle Monitor's inexperienced crew were loading too light a powder charge and only firing solid shot.
For a one-off battle, shit like this can happen, maybe even for an entire war if both sides have next to no space-faring war capability and yet chose to fight anyway. Such as a civil war between two sides in a nation that at full strength would not be a naval power. However, this paradigm is unlikely to span the entire setting and a major power would almost certainly stomp either side.
In this hypothetical,
The point of the fighters in this setting is to make your opponent hide their sensitive stuff so you have the edge in the big gun battle-
If one side has fighters and the other side doesn't, then one gains an information edge which gives them the edge in a gun battle.
If you don't have fighters, in a setting where fighters are effective, you need to have a means of dealing with fighters. You might still be at a disadvantage in spite of your fixed AA/PD but you'll still have as much as you can afford to have. See WWII and the growth of AA emplacements as the war went on for how this would go.
the PD is easily scrapped away by big guns even at range where they can't penetrate thick armor well
So close range then? Kinetic weapons won't lose energy in space be they missiles (post-burnout), railgun rounds, etc. Lasers might lose focus over extreme distances but at those ranges you're firing and just hoping to hit the ship. You're not picking off PD at any distance where laser focus will be an issue.
[quote[(or explodey outside-the-armor reactors)[/quote]
Why are you assuming that PD mounts are powered by exploding reactors...? PD could be a SW style 'laser' turret, but they could also be a proper laser where the only target is a small lens/mirror setup and the only hole in your armor is near exactly your beam width. Your PD could be missiles covered by heavy armor until they fire. It doesn't have to be a small dome with a small caliber minigun that only scores hit due to a high rate of fire; modern systems are decidedly moving away from this model of PD.
If a small drone could permanently blind a MBT easily, how is not-turtling helping? Now the enemy can just kill you at leasure and you don't have the option of unturtling and going, "Surprise, he's a blast from the main gun!".
If you're turtled you won't know when the enemy is under your gun so your 'Surprise!' never happens. What happens is you see drones coming, you turtle, and you hope that the enemy doesn't core you before something deals with the drones for you. You won't even know the enemy drones are dead because either you've hidden your comms mast or these drones have shot it off and you have no communications with the rest of your unit or local command.
during which you can still launch sensor buoys for occasional clear views
How are you getting data from these buoys? Your comms gear are literally sensors tuned to a specific frequency and are either hidden under armor or killed by these magical sniper fighters. Either way you're blind or opening your armor.
In the setting you've devised losing the fighter battle means losing the battle period. Turtling to avoid fighter damage would only happen after your fighter screen has failed to repel the enemy fighters or you were surprised and didn't have time to launch your own screen. In either case, you're already losing and thus, unless you know help is coming, your turtling just means you don't get to watch as the enemy slowly pounds your ship to death.
"Won't this leave you vulnerable?" Yea, the point is a combat paradigm where everyone needs to chose between two vulnerabilities at any one time and the one who chooses better has the advantage. Someone who turtles too soon loses. Someone who turtles to late loses. Fighters exist to try and make your opponent spend as much time turtled as possible. Something causing a vulnerability or not is not something that makes a paradigm not make sense, because it's a side-effect of the technology.
A commander who can avoid any of the circumstances that makes you turtle is a master of ambush, but "Why don't you just not have your sensors get shot at?" is akin to "Why don't you just have the British not fire arrows at our horses?", "Tell those flak guns to not shoot at our recon planes," and "Can't you tell the enemy to not kill our scouts?". It's always best to see more but the commanders have to actually struggle and maneuver to get that advantage because enemies doing things to mess up your desires is part of combat.
This is all ignorant nonsense written by somebody who doesn't understand anything even close to modern warfare. Unlike Star Wars, which is obviously WWII in space, this idea of turtling and not running PD has never been done anywhere in history. Due to this your setting will be picked apart for its combat because the context under which said combat makes sense doesn't exist.
Oh yea, and that's also largely talking 1v1. Fleet vs fleet? Then the sensor vulnerabilites impact even less. If you have friends, then you can turtle, have a live link so still have perfectly good intel/live datafeeds, then the drones/fighters leave to go after your friend who's supplying you with info, now they turtle and you unturtle and supply them with info. If you have a fleet battle, you try and force as many enemies to turtle as possible while trying to keep enough of yours unturtled as possible to provide the rest with sensors. If you don't turtle at all, you still lose sensors, just more permanently, because turtling/unturtling is pretty quick and there's no such thing as a non-vulnerable sensor near as good as a vulnerable one, and now the enemy can focus on trying to blind other ships. Ships can fake being sensor-crippled while they're just turtling and then pop up data links late in the fight to catch the enemy offguard, or what have you.
You have no link while you turtle because comms are just as soft as sensors. Get this through your thick skull.
one hit that doesn't penetrate armor can still clear away all your phalanxes
How? There aren't blast effects in space and you've specifically envisioned your ships using mass drivers, so are you picturing hull vibrations being enough to slag PD modules from a hit that doesn't defeat your main armor?
with the emphasis on armor, it might take something a bit bigger to guarantee kills. And, hm, now I'm picturing dogfights being pretty brutal affairs where a fighter is slowly taken down by it's rivals)
Make PD that blinds enemy fighters then, they can't armor their sensors any more than anybody else can. A blind fighter isn't a threat and we've established that a weapon that can't get past armor is able to kill sensors in your setting.
Hm, maybe combat launch vs non-combat launch stuff, where carriers are set up to shoot out fighters at high speed through tubes and set up to pick them up fast, while non-dedicated ones have to push out gently then accelerate on their own and don't expect to re-dock when the battle's on...
If fighters are important every ship is either a carrier or a screen. See WWII through to modern times for examples of this idea shaping naval design. Screens don't need fighters so why waste mass/volume on including a launch system that can't be used in combat? You could maybe make a case for something like a helipad, but without submarines, and there are either no subs in space or every ship in space is a sub, you delete the helipad and helicopter in favor of more AA/AS missiles and larger radar mounts.
My image as having gunships the dominant ship type, with missile ships and carriers each in supporting fleet roles. Carriers merely lock down sensors, they can't win on their own (i.e. they'll still get blown apart if they're on their own vs a gunship), and missile ships are a counter to a secondary threat/make sure your own asset can work as best.
Your setting already fails then. If fighters can be armored enough that PD is worthless then missiles will dominate as they can be just as armored while having a higher range and a better payload. Any jamming that can shut down a missiles sensors will also apply to a fighter so you can't have one without the other.
Just lack with flat Earth theory every answer you have invalidates some other answer you've already given.