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Re: [GZG] Not So Small thought re: Orbital Assault

From: John Atkinson <johnmatkinson@g...>
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2005 12:15:57 +0100
Subject: Re: [GZG] Not So Small thought re: Orbital Assault

On 11/25/05, Zoe and Carmel Brain <> wrote:
> Now a reasonable "firing arc" for weapons is 1 arc, 60 degrees.
> Otherwise, I dunno, the thickness of the atmosphere gets in the way,
> whatever. Firing arcs SMs stay at 180 degrees, the things can "bunt"
> after a vertical launch. Similarly, a PDU can only be fired at by
> in that arc.
> A little jiggling of the fighter rules would allow fighters to be both
> useful planetary defences, and useful planetary attackers, operating
> inside the atmosphere and so with weapons not degraded. More jiggling,
> and "commando launches" of fighter-size, but carrying sticks of
> forces, could land by stealth and conduct raids to take out the
> of Navarone.

True.  But the firing arc question assumes that PDUs are on smooth
spheres.  But most planets are bumpy.  Anywhere you put your PDU is
going to involve compromises and you will need secondary installations
to cover air corridors which may not have a good LOS to the PDU that
would be defending that sector.  Furthermore, if you site it with LOS
being a primary concern, you get to build it on top of a mountain
(more expensive, more time-consuming) and then it is seperated from
the settlements.  Perhaps enough to overcome the reluctance to just
slam it with a pair of tactical nukes launced from said fighters?

> How much do PDU's cost? Let's say 1/3 of the equivalent ship, and they
> also get unlimited single-row armour free ( and all but bypassed by
> specialised Ortillery). Non-damagable Screens too, if the atmosphere
> thick (but targets get the same protection). Damage to this armour
> indicates damage to the environment, civilian casualties etc. Cities
> could be represented by "passenger spaces". Give the PDUs too much of
> pasting, and you'll kill megapeople in the bunkers. Use too many
> non-specialised planetary attack weapons, like the dreaded KV "Mass
> Drivers" or Beams, and you conquer a radioactive or dust-covered
> hellhole. That's why you need ground forces, and have a reason for DS2
> and SG2 games.

???  Only savages put bomb shelters for civillians in military

I'd shy away from putting PDUs in actual valuable territory.  I mean,
what if you win the battle?  Then your colony is trashed and it's your
own fault.  Furthermore, major population centers are in places which
(typically) have good agricultural production and easy transportation
routes.  River valleys are a favorite, which is not always the best
place to stick a PDU, LOS-wise.

Even when coastal fortresses were an effective defense, they weren't
necessarily located downtown, but typically at the entrance to the
harbor, or on an island just off from the harbor which could control
it with gunfire.  A castle would (usually) be situated on a hilltop
near the town, not in middle of the market square.

Personally, my inclination for a planetary defense scheme runs like

Massive phased-array antennas scattered out all over the place for
fire control.

Buried silos--SMRs--scattered randomly through the wilderness and
heavily camoflaged.  They would have buried landline controls to
launch them, and the transmitters to control them after launch would
also be in the boonies and linked by hardline to the command center. 
Which would be buried under a mountain.

Could also place batteries of beam weapons in places where they defend
good LZs, but that would be seriously secondary.  Salvo Missles are
going to be better at shooting down stuff locked into an orbit.

Instead of a single big PDU, dozens of tiny installations scattered
all over the places, mostly in regions far, far away from anything
valuable.  And since they are SMRs, after they launch, you can waste
time/ordnance shooting at empty silos.	Doesn't hurt my feelings.

The population centers get PDSs.  Lots of them, locally controlled but
linked into the central command facility.

But that would be secondary.  I'd rather fight the fight in orbit
anyway.  Less people live there.

"Thousands of Sarmatians, Thousands of Franks, we've slain them again
and again.  We're looking for thousands of Persians."
--Vita Aureliani

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