Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

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Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Galvatron » 2018-04-07 06:27am

This seems to be a recurring discussion here, so I figured I'd make a thread about it. Also, a recent issue of the new EU comic shed more light on the subjugation of Mon Cala and may also explain why the Empire didn't just BDZ every rebellious world at the drop of a hat...

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Crazedwraith » 2018-04-07 06:36am

Is that Tarkin saying that? His thoughts changed once he got a Death Star.
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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Galvatron » 2018-04-07 06:40am

Yep. This takes place three years after ROTS.

Apparently that's when the honeymoon ended and the Emperor decided to stop playing Mr. Nice Guy.

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Captain Seafort » 2018-04-07 07:44am

Crazedwraith wrote:
2018-04-07 06:36am
Is that Tarkin saying that? His thoughts changed once he got a Death Star.
Not necessarily. "Not without cause" suggests that Tarkin isn't opposed to flattening planets on principle, but merely considers the disadvantages of flattening Mon Cala to outweigh the advantages in this case, and at this point in time. Of the four deployments or planned deployments of the Death Star, two were pinprick strikes (relatively speaking), one was aimed the the main rebel base on an otherwise uninhabited world, and one was the demonstration against Alderaan. In all the cases, it would be fairly easy to make the argument that the advantages gained from the destruction (material or psychological) outweighed the disadvantages of lost resources.
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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Lord Revan » 2018-04-07 11:08am

Yeah Tarkin here seems to be an example of pragmatic villain written well.

Meaning he is actually employing a pragmatic approach and not just using that as an excuse to be cartoonishly evil. He doesn't destroy Mon Cal here because there's no practical reason why and many practical reasons to preserve it.

It also should be noted that Death Star was meant to work primarly as a threat aka "we can destroy your world without you being able to do anything about it so don't step out of line or else we'll use this weapon on you!" rather then as a replacement for the imperial military.
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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by GuppyShark » 2018-04-07 10:41pm

The obvious analogy is that it is in effect a nuclear weapon - a weapon of last resort, not the only weapon in the arsenal. It is also the ultimate escalation point - even if someone defeats the Empire conventionally, they still have to pull their punches or the Empire will drop the ultimate hammer to ensure victory.

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Galvatron » 2018-04-08 05:56am

Tarkin also expresses his preference for a peaceful diplomatic solution with the Mon Cals and then laments its failure when the shit predictably hits the fan. I gotta say, I prefer this to the usual mustache twirling villain that he's usually depicted as.

Another thing of interest to note: Mon Cala evidently has no planetary shield.

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Rhadamantus » 2018-04-08 11:02am

The NEU seems weirdly conflicted on bombardment capabilities. Some works depict bombardment vessels with 100 megaton firepower. Others show that the Empire can, as in the old EU, burn worlds to the crust.
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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Galvatron » 2018-04-08 11:58am

This comic also has Tarkin being addressed as a Grand Moff two years earlier than his promotion to that rank so it seems like the LFL Story Group is slacking off a bit.

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Formless » 2018-04-08 04:30pm

Rhadamantus wrote:
2018-04-08 11:02am
The NEU seems weirdly conflicted on bombardment capabilities. Some works depict bombardment vessels with 100 megaton firepower. Others show that the Empire can, as in the old EU, burn worlds to the crust.
The Last Jedi can possibly explain this: in Disney canon, turbolasers have a range limit. Personally, I interpret this limit to be some sort of dispersion limit where the bolt's energy is spreading out until it loses enough of its destructive power that it will splash against a ship's shields harmlessly. Likewise, during that infamous scene of Rebels where the turbolaser bolts were hitting the surface of a planet with less power than a mortar round, they were probably fired from enough distance that most of the energy was dumped into the atmosphere before hitting the ground, causing the visible bolt to be weak even though the muzzle energy was enough to slag a city. But the full energy would still hit the planet, and enough blasts would be plenty good enough to roast cities the way Operation Cinder does (that is, by heating the atmosphere and not the crust). Also, a Star Destroyer can hover in a planet's atmosphere (as of Rouge One) which would allow point blank shots to melt the crust beneath a city like in the old EU. And finally, TLJ shows the existence of ships specifically armed for orbital bombardment, and this comic mentions that the Star Destroyer Tarkin is on is similarly equipped for the specific role of bombing a planet into dust.

So turbolasers still have as much firepower as in the old EU, and the Empire can still very much melt the surface of a world if they want to. Base Delta Zero still exists by name and with a similar definition to its old EU version. But there are new variables that dictate how turbolasers are deployed and what happens when you shoot at a planet from orbit with them.
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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Batman » 2018-04-08 05:17pm

Rebels also routinely showed Star Destroyers hovering close to the surface
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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Galvatron » 2018-04-09 10:37am

Formless wrote:
2018-04-08 04:30pm
during that infamous scene of Rebels where the turbolaser bolts were hitting the surface of a planet with less power than a mortar round, they were probably fired from enough distance that most of the energy was dumped into the atmosphere before hitting the ground, causing the visible bolt to be weak even though the muzzle energy was enough to slag a city.
The Thrawn novel would seem to support that theory.

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-04-09 11:36am

The thing is, if you shoot the atmosphere of a planet with nuclear-equivalent firepower, the energy loss due to energy leaking out into the air and exciting air molecules, uh... we know that looks like. The energy doesn't just 'disappear.' It looks like a well defined thing: a nuclear fireball.

A nuclear fireball is what happens when the energy directly released by a nuclear weapon (a huge amount of X-rays) starts hitting air molecules and imparting energy to them. This heats the air into a giant luminous cloud of plasma, the "fireball" of a nuclear device's initiation. Any similarly powerful beam weapon that interacts significantly with the air would create a similar effect- a wide pathway close to the beam's line of light would 'catch fire' and become the searingly hot plasma associated with nuclear weapons and their burn-inducing "flash."

By the same token, if you have energy weapons comparable to those required for an old-EU Base Delta Zero operation, you don't actually need to worry about the atmosphere. Just keep shooting; eventually you'll heat up the atmosphere so much that much of it spontaneously escapes into space, or becomes so hot and rarefied that it no longer significantly impedes your turbolaser bolt.

All energy and all heat has to go somewhere, and heat dumped into the atmosphere is no exception.
Galvatron wrote:
2018-04-08 05:56am
Tarkin also expresses his preference for a peaceful diplomatic solution with the Mon Cals and then laments its failure when the shit predictably hits the fan. I gotta say, I prefer this to the usual mustache twirling villain that he's usually depicted as.
To be fair, one could reasonably identify this as a younger, more idealistic Tarkin, who becomes more grimly devoted to sustaining 'peace' through intimidation and overwhelming imperial firepower over the course of the following 10-15 years.
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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Galvatron » 2018-04-09 01:53pm

Palpatine also stated that he had no desire to rule over an empire of the dead.

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Formless » 2018-04-09 03:34pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-04-09 11:36am
The thing is, if you shoot the atmosphere of a planet with nuclear-equivalent firepower, the energy loss due to energy leaking out into the air and exciting air molecules, uh... we know that looks like. The energy doesn't just 'disappear.' It looks like a well defined thing: a nuclear fireball.

A nuclear fireball is what happens when the energy directly released by a nuclear weapon (a huge amount of X-rays) starts hitting air molecules and imparting energy to them. This heats the air into a giant luminous cloud of plasma, the "fireball" of a nuclear device's initiation. Any similarly powerful beam weapon that interacts significantly with the air would create a similar effect- a wide pathway close to the beam's line of light would 'catch fire' and become the searingly hot plasma associated with nuclear weapons and their burn-inducing "flash."

By the same token, if you have energy weapons comparable to those required for an old-EU Base Delta Zero operation, you don't actually need to worry about the atmosphere. Just keep shooting; eventually you'll heat up the atmosphere so much that much of it spontaneously escapes into space, or becomes so hot and rarefied that it no longer significantly impedes your turbolaser bolt.

All energy and all heat has to go somewhere, and heat dumped into the atmosphere is no exception.
It would only create a nuclear fireball and shockwave if it released its energy in a very small volume of air/space (relatively speaking), which must not be the case if turbolasers lose effectiveness against shielded starships after traveling mere tens of kilometers, as we saw in TLJ. Since that happens in space, then turbolasers must experience some sort of diffraction like lasers do or dispersion like a particle beam. It doesn't have anything to do with the atmosphere per-say, although an atmosphere may amplify the problem. Fired from far enough away from a planet, a turbolaser's energy may already be spread out over an area possibly tens or even hundreds of kilometers wide. That will not cause the same effects as a nuclear bomb; although heating of the atmosphere will be significant, a person may be able to stand underneath a blast and live so long as the part of the beam that is still coherent does not hit them directly. Just like we saw in the Rebels episode.

Alternatively (or if the range is closer to the planet), it may only create such a fireball in the upper atmosphere and people on the ground will still be mainly concerned about the part of the bolt that passed through with less energy than before. Consider the Chelyabinsk meteor: it released about half a megaton of energy, but at an altitude of almost thirty kilometers, so the main thing people on the ground felt was uncomfortable but not life threatening heat, and shockwaves that shattered glass but caused significant structural damage to just one building in the entire city (an old steel factory, IIRC). Yes, I agree that if you fire enough bolts through the atmosphere that airburst at thirty kilometers you can still cause a BDZ type event: in fact, I already suggested as much, and that it may be the in-universe inspiration for Operation: Cinder which used specialized satellites to do exactly that. My main goal here is to explain how that (extraordinarily dumb) episode of Rebels could depict an orbital bombardment so seemingly inconsistent with other orbital bombardments depicted in the same universe, as well as the fact that BDZ remains a canon procedure in the NEU Empire. TLJ (for all that I hate it) seems to give a possible out for this inconsistency.
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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Galvatron » 2018-04-09 04:12pm

That may also explain why the Empire used TIE bombers for their punitive strikes against Ryloth instead of just casually firing a few laser salvos from orbit.

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-04-10 11:23am

Formless wrote:
2018-04-09 03:34pm
It would only create a nuclear fireball and shockwave if it released its energy in a very small volume of air/space (relatively speaking), which must not be the case if turbolasers lose effectiveness against shielded starships after traveling mere tens of kilometers, as we saw in TLJ. Since that happens in space, then turbolasers must experience some sort of diffraction like lasers do or dispersion like a particle beam. It doesn't have anything to do with the atmosphere per-say, although an atmosphere may amplify the problem. Fired from far enough away from a planet, a turbolaser's energy may already be spread out over an area possibly tens or even hundreds of kilometers wide. That will not cause the same effects as a nuclear bomb; although heating of the atmosphere will be significant, a person may be able to stand underneath a blast and live so long as the part of the beam that is still coherent does not hit them directly. Just like we saw in the Rebels episode.
The problem is, it's still a directed energy weapon; the energy all has to go somewhere. It doesn't just disappear. The amount of energy involved is significant, and how far it gets dispersed, and there are calculable bounds at work here.

If a gigaton-range energy bolt heats up the upper atmosphere, it's going to sear everything underneath it even if no clearly recognizable 'bolt' reaches ground level. That's because the fireball associated with a gigaton-range energy release is so big it'll touch the ground almost regardless of how high up it goes off. By contrast, a kiloton-range bolt won't touch the ground if detonated in the upper atmosphere. It's small enough that its energy can be fully absorbed by the upper air.
Alternatively (or if the range is closer to the planet), it may only create such a fireball in the upper atmosphere and people on the ground will still be mainly concerned about the part of the bolt that passed through with less energy than before. Consider the Chelyabinsk meteor: it released about half a megaton of energy, but at an altitude of almost thirty kilometers, so the main thing people on the ground felt was uncomfortable but not life threatening heat, and shockwaves that shattered glass but caused significant structural damage to just one building in the entire city (an old steel factory, IIRC).
Yes, but by the same token, as you scale up the blast you scale up the effects. The Chelyabinsk meteor was as you describe, but scale up the blast and you get something more like the Tunguska event. Furthermore, the effects are scattered widely for everyone, there is no one narrow region that experiences a disproportionate effect surrounded by a huge area where the effects are negligible.
My main goal here is to explain how that (extraordinarily dumb) episode of Rebels could depict an orbital bombardment so seemingly inconsistent with other orbital bombardments depicted in the same universe...
The problem is "they're firing gigaton-range guns but what actually hits the ground is indistinguishable from a mortar barrage" isn't a viable outcome even under the explanation you're providing...
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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Galvatron » 2018-04-10 11:54am

Given Tarkin's statements, Imperial policy may actually prohibit the mass destruction of valuable worlds which could also explain why the Judicator's orbital assault of Batonn in the Thrawn novel was less effective than if they'd been able to unleash the full power of the ship's heavy turbolasers.

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by WATCH-MAN » 2018-04-11 05:59am

Formless wrote:
2018-04-09 03:34pm
My main goal here is to explain how that (extraordinarily dumb) episode of Rebels could depict an orbital bombardment so seemingly inconsistent with other orbital bombardments depicted in the same universe, ...
Please provide examples of other orbital bombardments that are inconsistent with the orbital bombardment depicted in the episode of Rebels.

Comparing theses examples of other orbital bombardments with the orbital bombardment depicted in the episode of Rebels may result in a more plausible explanation.

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Rhadamantus » 2018-04-11 09:40am

WATCH-MAN wrote:
2018-04-11 05:59am
Formless wrote:
2018-04-09 03:34pm
My main goal here is to explain how that (extraordinarily dumb) episode of Rebels could depict an orbital bombardment so seemingly inconsistent with other orbital bombardments depicted in the same universe, ...
Please provide examples of other orbital bombardments that are inconsistent with the orbital bombardment depicted in the episode of Rebels.

Comparing theses examples of other orbital bombardments with the orbital bombardment depicted in the episode of Rebels may result in a more plausible explanation.
The Canon ICS quote that Resurgent class destroyers can turn planetary surfaces to slag.
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"Mortem Delenda Est."

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Galvatron » 2018-04-11 09:52am

FWIW, this is from the previous page of the same issue that I posted above...

Image

So even without a planetary shield, Tarkin notes that Mon Cala would be difficult to attack.

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by WATCH-MAN » 2018-04-11 04:10pm

Rhadamantus wrote:
2018-04-11 09:40am
WATCH-MAN wrote:
2018-04-11 05:59am
Formless wrote:
2018-04-09 03:34pm
My main goal here is to explain how that (extraordinarily dumb) episode of Rebels could depict an orbital bombardment so seemingly inconsistent with other orbital bombardments depicted in the same universe, ...
Please provide examples of other orbital bombardments that are inconsistent with the orbital bombardment depicted in the episode of Rebels.

Comparing theses examples of other orbital bombardments with the orbital bombardment depicted in the episode of Rebels may result in a more plausible explanation.
The Canon ICS quote that Resurgent class destroyers can turn planetary surfaces to slag.
Canon ICS?

Do you mean the Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Incredible Cross-Sections, the Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Incredible Cross-Sections or another Incredible Cross Sections?

And regardless what you mean, what exactly does it say?

How much of the planetary surface can one Resurgent class destroyer turn to slag?

From which distance?

In how much time?

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by WATCH-MAN » 2018-04-11 04:17pm

Rhadamantus wrote:
2018-04-11 09:40am
WATCH-MAN wrote:
2018-04-11 05:59am
Formless wrote:
2018-04-09 03:34pm
My main goal here is to explain how that (extraordinarily dumb) episode of Rebels could depict an orbital bombardment so seemingly inconsistent with other orbital bombardments depicted in the same universe, ...
Please provide examples of other orbital bombardments that are inconsistent with the orbital bombardment depicted in the episode of Rebels.

Comparing theses examples of other orbital bombardments with the orbital bombardment depicted in the episode of Rebels may result in a more plausible explanation.
The Canon ICS quote that Resurgent class destroyers can turn planetary surfaces to slag.
That's a claim about the abilities of a Resurgent class destroyer but not the depiction of an orbital bombardment let alone orbital bombardments.

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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Batman » 2018-04-11 04:31pm

When people say 'planetary surfaces' they usually mean the entire planetary surface and nobody'd say it if it takes freaking forever. TFA ICS and if you weren't a willfully ignorant moron you'd know it had to be either the TFA or the TLJ ICS what with the Resurgent class not existing before the ST.
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Re: Orbital bombardments, planetary defenses, Death Stars, etc.

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-04-11 05:04pm

Don't worry about Watchman; he's a prototype chatbot gone amok. :P

If you don't feed him, I'm sure the isolated demands for rigor and willful forgetting of the connotations of basic statements in the English language will subside.
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