Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Damn the Torpedoes!

Humanity went to the stars and took their military with them. The Solar Space Command did not let the absence of hostile alien navies deter them or shrink their budget. The newest cruisers were on the drawing board when engineers worried that their bulk would make existing lasers and missiles ineffective against them. Strides in computer systems already made space fighters obsolete.

Missiles packed more punch than lasers but sand, ECM, and point defense weapons all took their toll on munitions. Some designers advocated a larger form of laser emitter (see Showing the Flag At the Icy Shores 8/15/14 post.) This feature was rushed into production for the newest generation of warship but some strategists have misgivings about it. Other navies like that of Tyche decided to improve the odds of missile strikes through sheer volume, fielding carriers with large numbers of missile armed launches.

The latest solution the Terrans have examined was the torpedo. Unlike the smaller 50 kilogram missiles a Mark I torpedo weighed in at five tons and the first were built on stripped grav speeder hulls. It was powered by a maneuver drive with a liquid fuel chemical rocket for terminal maneuvering. Its warhead was ten times the size of a missile (3D of hits each die of damage applied to a different hit location.) A maneuver drive allowed a torpedo to maneuver at 6 gees indefinitely. The liquid rocket motor allowed it to increase its acceleration to 12 gees for a single turn. Since it had maneuver drives sand would not affect the torpedo (though laser fire was slightly more effective than against missiles (-2 DM to hit.)

The downside was the 1,000,000 cr. price tag, as much as a turret itself. The torpedo could be outfitted with any of the detonators a missile could. Contact detonators were popular since the torpedo was not limited by delta-v and could maneuver indefinitely. However, ECM programs could still cause the torpedoes to malfunction  and miss. Including a computer in the already expensive weapons was decided to be unproductive.

The solution was to incorporate a laser guidance system in the torpedoes. Since active laser guidance could allow similar torpedoes to track a torpedo back to its launching ship and sand could foil the targeting system at long ranges a launch was designated to paint targets for the torpedoes and defeat ECM. Since a launch could could control a number of torpedoes (Computer model # +2) outfitting it with a high end computer was not considered to expensive.

The launches were of course far too small to launch the torpedoes and depended on the mother ship. An expensive problem with torpedoes was the launch tube required for any kind of speed in launching the monsters. Launch tubes were 125 tons and cost 250,000 cr. and could launch five torpedoes per turn.

Once a torpedo was in space its explosive warhead would hit a target with the same probability of a beam laser fired at that target. Sand could interfere with the procedure (-1 DM per 25 mm of sand.) But a torpedo that missed could come around and try again until it or the controlling launch was destroyed.

Destroying the launches proved a popular option with cruiser commanders in simulations after their initial shock. This led to redesigned launches that were faster and better armed. This led to other launches with better armament to shoot them down. The space fighter advocates had the last laugh.

Rumors of an anti-torpedo torpedo are without foundation according to Solar Space Command but continue to sell downloads of Star Soldiers of Destiny.