On the effectiveness of missiles

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On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Kane » 2014-10-01 10:05

I'm taking this data from Schulte, John C.
An Analysis of the Historical Effectiveness of Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles in Littoral Warfare. Monterey, CA: Naval Postgraduate School, September 1994.

Why real world examples? Well, because SW is a reflection of ourselves. I'm writing this because the effectiveness of missiles isn't something very well known to the general public. First, this analysis divides targets into three types - defenceless, defendable, and defended. Out of those three, the only one that requires an explanation should be defendable - that's a ship which could defend itself but effectively didn't due to various factors (surprise being a major one, friendly fire which could also count as surprise, technical malfunction, inattentiveness et cetera).

The analysis covers incidents from 1967 to 1992 with a total of 30 examples of warship damage. The hit rates -

Defenceless target (freighters, tankers and such): 91.3%
Defendable target (mostly warships caught by surprise): 68.4%
Defended target = 26.4%

Of course there was a number of warships that successfully intercepted incoming missiles with chaff and such, resulting in not being hit at all. But these are overall rates. Also noted, the same table after 1980 only (missiles are clearly better):

Defenceless target 98.1%
Defendable target 63%
Defended target 45%

As for the effect of a hit, the target's mass is the key factor, since mass and size are defences in of themselves. An average of 1.2 missiles puts a ship out of action and 1.8 missiles sank a ship. Against warships over 7000 tons, one can obviously expect these numbers to change significantly. Generally speaking, it takes 2 to 3 times more missiles to sink a warship of 150-7000 tons as it does to mission kill it.

Hit results -
Minor damage 20%
Major damage 60%
Sunk 20%

Finally, softkill measure were found to be extremely effective defences. Softkill being things like jamming, decoys, chaff, and maneouvering taking out 75% of incoming missiles. Hardkill interception, in this case manual guns, were almost completely ineffective with only one hit (3.3%). Perhaps I'll look over CIWS another time.

The term for the number of missiles getting through your defences is called missile leak, and it seems a leakage rate of 25% or higher would be disastrous. Also, these numbers are on small warships, 7000 tons or less, because that's what a typical engagement looks like. Tankers between 7000 and 13000 tons were heavily damaged 80% of the time by a single Exocet, which has a modest warhead of 165 kg, while tankers of more than 70000 tons suffered major damage 60% of the time. Also as one might expect, a damaged ship is much less effective in defending itself. On average, 10% of the crew was killed in anti-ship missile incidents. On the small warships, up to 25% of the crew was killed, and up to 35% injured.
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Phoenix Empire » 2014-10-03 00:41

Thanks Ace for posting!

Source?

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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by jacenwesiri » 2014-10-03 07:03

Missiles over turbolasers has been my ideal going back at least five years. I remember TH complaining about how a ship with too many missiles on it was really a fire cracker, but that misses the point, I'd say. As the idea is to not be hit, rather than to be able to take hits comfortably.

Of course, this doesn't really apply to most star wars setting, as it seems that the data is for a Littoral setting. About the closest to a littoral setting we're going to get is either something like C1 where 1st and 5th, with 3rd joining, are in orbit over a planet. Well, that, or maybe a mission in an asteroid field. My guess is blue water warfare would be a more effective model for most NIF style missions.

Anyways, ECM is godly, but hard kills include more than just the phalanx style guns. I'd have to assume that things like the Sea Sparrow also fit that bill. Something like the phalanx guns are really more of a last resort. Along the lines of this, does the NIF have anything like Sea Sparrows? Or is this something we'd have to R&D? I'm sure I know how that would work. It would probably go like a billion MGLT, and have an all-who-touch-this-shall-die mechanic. Maybe not quite to the Powers Gee-Emm, but close enough. Oh yeah, and would cost like five credits each, with a 3 credit export version.
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Kane » 2014-10-06 08:43

Phoenix Empire wrote:Source?
First thing mentioned.
jacenwesiri wrote:Missiles over turbolasers has been my ideal going back at least five years. I remember TH complaining about how a ship with too many missiles on it was really a fire cracker, but that misses the point, I'd say. As the idea is to not be hit, rather than to be able to take hits comfortably.

Of course, this doesn't really apply to most star wars setting, as it seems that the data is for a Littoral setting. About the closest to a littoral setting we're going to get is either something like C1 where 1st and 5th, with 3rd joining, are in orbit over a planet. Well, that, or maybe a mission in an asteroid field. My guess is blue water warfare would be a more effective model for most NIF style missions.
Littoral does apply well, in the sense that no one fights over empty space if they can help it. Territory is what matters - the land itself and the routes to it. The only time blue water fighting would occur today is due to interception of enemy forces discovered prior to attack - and even then, you may choose to defend at point where you have the advantage of defence. Attack at the open sea is considerably harder to pull off.

I don't favour missiles myself, although I would certainly prefer to have the option available. Also in SW, they pack a lot of bang when they hit, but hitting is very questionable and to increase the chance you need to get close, which also puts yourself at greater risk. In space, there's not much to hide behind. No horizon, no terrain, no clouds. At best there would be solar radiation. Obviously we can do a number of things - SW stealth tech, evasive missile software, cloud intelligence, remote control and so on and so forth. These are directly analogous to Earth tech though.
jacenwesiri wrote:Anyways, ECM is godly, but hard kills include more than just the phalanx style guns. I'd have to assume that things like the Sea Sparrow also fit that bill. Something like the phalanx guns are really more of a last resort. Along the lines of this, does the NIF have anything like Sea Sparrows? Or is this something we'd have to R&D? I'm sure I know how that would work. It would probably go like a billion MGLT, and have an all-who-touch-this-shall-die mechanic. Maybe not quite to the Powers Gee-Emm, but close enough. Oh yeah, and would cost like five credits each, with a 3 credit export version.
We have flares, chaff, flak, cluster bombs, cluster missiles, and you could undoubtedly just fire a regular concussion missile as an interceptor, particularly in burst mode. Arguably, turbolasers can be used in flak mode as well, and of course, any type of common energy weapon - turbolaser, laser, blaster cannon - can be used for hard kill interception, with varying degrees of effectiveness.

We also have Fini's MISS, which is directly analogous to automatic short-range CIWS, and the MIST system. Generally speaking, modern Earth short-range interception missiles are a lot more effective than CIWS, because they're guided and have much longer range. A missile that's intercepted too close may still hit you with shrapnel and burning fuel.

As a side note, the ground-based Iron Dome interception system is interesting because it improves effectiveness by not shooting at targets that it calculates will miss anyway.

Modern ship-based anti-ship missiles are, as the figures demonstrate, quite effective and explains why many modern ships only has a handful of them. Japan's destroyers only carry like, 8 missiles in peacetime, and that's basically enough that it's unlikely that they will ever spend all of them even on a wartime mission. SW missiles aren't quite so lucky in my opinion, but our ships are also large enough to carry a lot of missiles - the standard loadout is just 20 per launcher, though. To make up for being less fast and agile, it would make sense if larger capships carries a big load of longer range offensive missiles. Which, oddly enough, is also what we generally see. In other words, big ships carry a lot of missiles not so much because they can, but because they have to.
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by jacenwesiri » 2014-10-07 05:09

Kane wrote:Littoral does apply well, in the sense that no one fights over empty space if they can help it. Territory is what matters - the land itself and the routes to it. The only time blue water fighting would occur today is due to interception of enemy forces discovered prior to attack - and even then, you may choose to defend at point where you have the advantage of defence. Attack at the open sea is considerably harder to pull off.
Littoral Combat

Anyways, a littoral is really close to the coast, close enough that many full fledged warships would risk running aground, not to mention maneuverability issues. What I meant with littoral combat was with regards to how in C1, the few fleets involved are getting close enough to be trading shots with ground emplacements, but that really isn't correct. Realistically, the littoral combat analog would be coming so close to the atmosphere that you are skimming it, and periodically going into it.

And yes, attack at the open sea is hard to pull off, and that's part of why it so infrequently happens. Very rarely have any naval fleets been engaged out in the open sea, and that goes back for centuries. I believe there's a real possibility that it could have happened more predictably in the cold war, but fortunately we never got to experience that. Then again, with the way Foggy Bottom is handling things with Russia, we might be there by next month.

Anyways, as an example of Blue Water Combat, I'd like to invoke the Battle of the Coral Sea. Hereis a nice graphic showing how the battle progressed. There's a fair amount of land there, but not necessarily where the combat took place. For some back ground, the Japanese fleet was moving to cut off supply lines to Australia, and it's probable that if they would have succeeded, they would have been able to have conquered Australia. (Basically, most of the Australian military was over in places like Africa fighting to preserve the mother country's empire. So cutting the supply routes would have meant they would have had to defend with what they had, which would have been next to nothing.)

Taking that and going to a space analog, I'd suggest that a "normal" naval battle for our purposes would be something along those lines, where we are staying at least far enough away to avoid getting shot out of the sky by ground based defenses, and to preserve some degree of freedom of maneuver. Once the enemy navy is taken care of, then we can move to cut supply lines, and proceed to bombard ground targets.

Kane wrote: I don't favour missiles myself, although I would certainly prefer to have the option available. Also in SW, they pack a lot of bang when they hit, but hitting is very questionable and to increase the chance you need to get close, which also puts yourself at greater risk. In space, there's not much to hide behind. No horizon, no terrain, no clouds. At best there would be solar radiation. Obviously we can do a number of things - SW stealth tech, evasive missile software, cloud intelligence, remote control and so on and so forth. These are directly analogous to Earth tech though.
I think I made a tremendous mistake when I first wrote a lot of my naval posts. I currently don't believe that a normal person could regularly expect to see the enemy naval ships in most circumstances. Sensors could detect the enemy combatants, but I highly doubt anyone on the ship normally could. Going back to the WW2 standards that seem to be the basis for a lot of how SW operates, the Iowa Class Battleship, coincidentally the last battleship class produced by the USA, had a fairly significant main armament. They fired roughly projectiles that would be about a metric ton an astounding 38,720 m, to be friendly to the Americans here, that's about 24 miles. The earth curves such that anything beyond about 5,000 meters is out of sight. (The Iowa class was designed for it's main armament to be able to pierce half a meter of steel at about 18,000 meters. The basic form of naval combat between surface combatants was really two opposing forces who were out of sight from each other trading artillery fire. Radar helped, but both combatants would have been moving, which wouldn't exactly have aided hitting all that much.

For our purposes, you would probably be multiplying the range by a fairly hefty number. After all, a star destroyer is capable of planetary bombardment from orbit, so one would assume that the range should at least be that much. A low earth orbit is about 300,000 meters. So this would probably translate into on the order, perhaps up to a few million meters for the range. Coincidentally, the shortest width between two lines that a human eye can distinguish is on the order of about .01 degrees. For an ISD to be at this distance, it would be at about 4.5 million meters. So potentially, where there are two ISDs duking it out, if visible, they would be a tiny barely perceptible speck out in the distance. Also, this would be on the order of 1% of the distance to the moon from the earth for comparison. Similarly, that same ISD at low earth orbit would be about a third of a degree across. For comparison purposes, if you are to extend your hand away from your body as far as you can, a degree would be approximately the width of the small finger on your hand. If a star destroyer were in orbit over you, under ideal conditions, its length would be about 1/3 of that. (the number came out to be about .3, which is approximately a third.) At such extreme distances, trying to calculate firing solutions, when both the target and the platform are moving would be no small matter, and even if you were to correctly calculate the position, there is randomness because you don't know how the target is going to be moving. At those kinds of distances, it could be out in the open just fine, and hiding in plain sight. Things like ECM would only make that worse. Having a missile that can make corrections as it approaches would make a big difference as far as hitting.

Anyways, going by some of Ackbar's comments in Return of the Jedi, it's suicidal for the Rebel Fleet to get too close to the Star Destroyers, which would suggest that part of the balancing between ISDs and Mon Cals is that they are moreover balanced at range, where the Mon Cals can take a few stray shots, but when you get too close, the lowered range bringing increased accuracy would be expected to favor the ISDs, which lines up with Ackbar's comment.

I'd guess that turbolasers are much cheaper per shot than a missile, but I'd assume that missiles can much more reliably hit. My guess is that each shot from a turbolaser costs about 1% of a comparable missile, but would have maybe 5% of the accuracy. So the cost efficiency as measured by the expected damage divided by the cost would be better for the turbolaser. However, that misses another point, as by another metric, namely time to deal a certain amount of damage would favor the missile. Basically, the missile, because it has a higher chance of hitting, would be able to deal critical damage sooner than the turbolaser, and therefore a ship that is armed with missiles would be more likely to come back alive when compared to a ship armed with turbolasers in a 1 v1 confrontation. Of course, this would also factor into tactics. If the turbolaser's accuracy improves by getting into closer range, it would encourage one to get into closer range to get an edge. Of course, realizing that, the ship with the missiles would want to stay in standoff range where it is at an advantage. There are other things to consider, turbolasers require more of a dedicated power source, which would take up a lot of space, whereas the missiles wouldn't be so dependent on the power source for their weapons, which might allow for a cheaper ship, and once the missiles are fired, it would be at a mass advantage, so should be better able to run away. The tactical implications are very interesting, and I could probably go on for a few more pages on it.
Kane wrote:Modern ship-based anti-ship missiles are, as the figures demonstrate, quite effective and explains why many modern ships only has a handful of them. Japan's destroyers only carry like, 8 missiles in peacetime, and that's basically enough that it's unlikely that they will ever spend all of them even on a wartime mission. SW missiles aren't quite so lucky in my opinion, but our ships are also large enough to carry a lot of missiles - the standard loadout is just 20 per launcher, though. To make up for being less fast and agile, it would make sense if larger capships carries a big load of longer range offensive missiles. Which, oddly enough, is also what we generally see. In other words, big ships carry a lot of missiles not so much because they can, but because they have to.
I would have to ask if the paper used the standard definition of littoral warfare, or if it used a different one. If it used a standard definition, my guess is that it wouldn't be including destroyers, and would probably be more along the lines of fast attack craft. If memory serves, using them against fast attack craft or similar would be characteristic of the Iran-Iraq war (the wikipedia article mentions missiles used against shipping, which line up with the description of the paper.). the 6 days war would be a candidate, as would the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War would have also included that. The only other war in that period in which anything heavier might have been used would have been the Falklands War, but my assumption is that there most of the fighting would be more likely to be referred to as blue water warfare.

EDIT: Was planning on ending it there, but a thought occurred as I left to get a glass of water. I recall Ace posting something on the N squared law. (Calculus strikes again!) Anyways, in the article Ace posted, there was someone who wrote up a model to test it, and ran it probably a few hundred times or whatnot. Anyways, an interesting aspect that I recall from that was that it was typically more effective to increase the range of a battleship's guns than to increase the number of them. So going back to the Iowa class, sure it has 20 meter long barrels, and fired rounds as big as volkswagen, but the amount of effort to increase the range of a gun is a lot more than what it would take to increase the range of a missile. So, realistically, guns, with their analog of turbolasers, are nice, but you might be able to outrange, and if you're clever enough, surprise the opponent much better. Right, so the goal would be to make sure that a defendable target isn't defended.
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Kane » 2014-10-07 10:00

jacenwesiri wrote:I would have to ask if the paper used the standard definition of littoral warfare, or if it used a different one. If it used a standard definition, my guess is that it wouldn't be including destroyers, and would probably be more along the lines of fast attack craft. If memory serves, using them against fast attack craft or similar would be characteristic of the Iran-Iraq war (the wikipedia article mentions missiles used against shipping, which line up with the description of the paper.). the 6 days war would be a candidate, as would the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War would have also included that. The only other war in that period in which anything heavier might have been used would have been the Falklands War, but my assumption is that there most of the fighting would be more likely to be referred to as blue water warfare.

EDIT: Was planning on ending it there, but a thought occurred as I left to get a glass of water. I recall Ace posting something on the N squared law. (Calculus strikes again!) Anyways, in the article Ace posted, there was someone who wrote up a model to test it, and ran it probably a few hundred times or whatnot. Anyways, an interesting aspect that I recall from that was that it was typically more effective to increase the range of a battleship's guns than to increase the number of them. So going back to the Iowa class, sure it has 20 meter long barrels, and fired rounds as big as volkswagen, but the amount of effort to increase the range of a gun is a lot more than what it would take to increase the range of a missile. So, realistically, guns, with their analog of turbolasers, are nice, but you might be able to outrange, and if you're clever enough, surprise the opponent much better. Right, so the goal would be to make sure that a defendable target isn't defended.
I'm taking this bit out separately because this is about IRL warfare. For the most part, the paper's incidents involve small patrol crafts as mentioned by the tonnage, but there's a few destroyers involved. Heavier ships automatically withstand damage better, especially warships designed for damage limitation and control. Iowa-class battleships are nearly unsinkable in terms of missiles, but all or nothing armour schemes means most of it has little or no armour at all... including vital electronic parts like radar. Since it's impossible to both protect and use your sensitive sensors at the same time, no ship today has armour comparable to WWII battlewagons. Indeed, the cruiser-sized multi-billion ultra-modern Zumwalt class even uses balsa wood as part of its biocomposite armour.

The situation is not quite the same in SW, but sensors are still vulnerable, as verily proven in ROTJ:
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jacenwesiri wrote:Taking that and going to a space analog, I'd suggest that a "normal" naval battle for our purposes would be something along those lines, where we are staying at least far enough away to avoid getting shot out of the sky by ground based defenses, and to preserve some degree of freedom of maneuver. Once the enemy navy is taken care of, then we can move to cut supply lines, and proceed to bombard ground targets.
Well, I would separate space combat into two distinct parts - deep space and planetary space, the latter being inside a star system or similar environment with gravitational or other space hazards present. We rarely get into the first, given that deep space is nothing to fight over, but there may be exceptions. The Battle of Coruscant in AOTC happened because the Republic failed to detect and intercept the Confederacy in time, for example. Even at the very edge of a star system where there's no gravitational influence to speak of, the battle is still one concerning system resources and obstacles. That's what defines it in my opinion, rather than proximity to planetary or system defences. Of course most of our battles progress as you have described, since it's usually the most expedient way to handle said obstacles.
jacenwesiri wrote:Anyways, as an example of Blue Water Combat, I'd like to invoke the Battle of the Coral Sea. Hereis a nice graphic showing how the battle progressed. There's a fair amount of land there, but not necessarily where the combat took place. For some back ground, the Japanese fleet was moving to cut off supply lines to Australia, and it's probable that if they would have succeeded, they would have been able to have conquered Australia. (Basically, most of the Australian military was over in places like Africa fighting to preserve the mother country's empire. So cutting the supply routes would have meant they would have had to defend with what they had, which would have been next to nothing.)
The Battle of the Coral Sea happened because US intelligence had learned of the Japanese plans and successfully intercepted the IJN task force. I have to call that an unusual situation. It is directly analogous to if the Republic had successfully anticipated and intercepted the separatists in AOTC.
jacenwesiri wrote:I think I made a tremendous mistake when I first wrote a lot of my naval posts. I currently don't believe that a normal person could regularly expect to see the enemy naval ships in most circumstances. Sensors could detect the enemy combatants, but I highly doubt anyone on the ship normally could.
Well yes. If I describe what a ship looks like, I almost invariably don't mean by eyeballs Mk 1. Electro-photo receptors are one of the most common sensors though, so they would provide visuals.
jacenwesiri wrote:For our purposes, you would probably be multiplying the range by a fairly hefty number. After all, a star destroyer is capable of planetary bombardment from orbit, so one would assume that the range should at least be that much. A low earth orbit is about 300,000 meters. So this would probably translate into on the order, perhaps up to a few million meters for the range. Coincidentally, the shortest width between two lines that a human eye can distinguish is on the order of about .01 degrees. For an ISD to be at this distance, it would be at about 4.5 million meters. So potentially, where there are two ISDs duking it out, if visible, they would be a tiny barely perceptible speck out in the distance. Also, this would be on the order of 1% of the distance to the moon from the earth for comparison. Similarly, that same ISD at low earth orbit would be about a third of a degree across. For comparison purposes, if you are to extend your hand away from your body as far as you can, a degree would be approximately the width of the small finger on your hand. If a star destroyer were in orbit over you, under ideal conditions, its length would be about 1/3 of that. (the number came out to be about .3, which is approximately a third.) At such extreme distances, trying to calculate firing solutions, when both the target and the platform are moving would be no small matter, and even if you were to correctly calculate the position, there is randomness because you don't know how the target is going to be moving. At those kinds of distances, it could be out in the open just fine, and hiding in plain sight. Things like ECM would only make that worse. Having a missile that can make corrections as it approaches would make a big difference as far as hitting.

Anyways, going by some of Ackbar's comments in Return of the Jedi, it's suicidal for the Rebel Fleet to get too close to the Star Destroyers, which would suggest that part of the balancing between ISDs and Mon Cals is that they are moreover balanced at range, where the Mon Cals can take a few stray shots, but when you get too close, the lowered range bringing increased accuracy would be expected to favor the ISDs, which lines up with Ackbar's comment.

I'd guess that turbolasers are much cheaper per shot than a missile, but I'd assume that missiles can much more reliably hit. My guess is that each shot from a turbolaser costs about 1% of a comparable missile, but would have maybe 5% of the accuracy. So the cost efficiency as measured by the expected damage divided by the cost would be better for the turbolaser. However, that misses another point, as by another metric, namely time to deal a certain amount of damage would favor the missile. Basically, the missile, because it has a higher chance of hitting, would be able to deal critical damage sooner than the turbolaser, and therefore a ship that is armed with missiles would be more likely to come back alive when compared to a ship armed with turbolasers in a 1 v1 confrontation. Of course, this would also factor into tactics. If the turbolaser's accuracy improves by getting into closer range, it would encourage one to get into closer range to get an edge. Of course, realizing that, the ship with the missiles would want to stay in standoff range where it is at an advantage. There are other things to consider, turbolasers require more of a dedicated power source, which would take up a lot of space, whereas the missiles wouldn't be so dependent on the power source for their weapons, which might allow for a cheaper ship, and once the missiles are fired, it would be at a mass advantage, so should be better able to run away. The tactical implications are very interesting, and I could probably go on for a few more pages on it.
I think it's a lot more complicated than that, but most battles can be reduced, at least theoretically, to numbers.

It's pretty obvious that missiles have to hit a lot more often than turbolasers. A missile ship like a Vic 1 has 80 missile tubes, but it could easily fire thousands of TL bolts with its 120 barrels. Anti-ship missiles also hit comparatively much harder. The reasons for this is largely in the first case that missiles are guided, and warheads can deliver its energy much faster than direct energy weapons, which results in more effective power - more work done on target. TL bolts do usually have the advantage of being more focused on target, but shape-charged torpedoes (even more dangerous than missiles) even out that advantage.

So yes, purely by numbers, 1 missile is more dangerous in ship to ship combat than a turbolaser cannon.

But enter the disadvantages; you mentioned cost, and absolutely, turbolasers are more cost efficient. You can fire a turbolaser cannon all day and it's only going to cost you a bit of fuel. While each and every missile fired is a small fortune down the drain.

As for space, turbolasers require reactors - but you need hefty reactors and power systems for the shields and engines anyway. I'm inclined to say that turbolasers are bit more space efficient because of that. Our capships are huge, but when it comes to dedicating space to combat systems, these things matter in bang for the ton.

Furthermore, a ship packed full of missiles is a greater investment and consequently potential loss in terms of cost as compared to a ship packed with turbolasers.

As for the tactical differences, on one hand you're right in that missiles have a long range advantage of greater accuracy than turbolasers. But at the same time, they're much more costly per attack, so closing range to improve accuracy further would be more cost-effective in terms of firing missiles. Basically speaking, it depends.

I'll have to leave for the moment... perhaps I'll add more later.

EDIT: anyway, the point I was getting up to is that like with every kind of weapon system, one is rarely more effective than another, it's more about circumstances. If you have a weapon system that's clearly superior, you replace the now obsolete ones. If not, you add them to account for the circumstances in which they're more worthwhile. In that sense, I'm going to have to say that a typical ship loadout with a majority of turbolasers, some ion cannons, some missiles, and a bit of assorted support systems is pretty much the right way to go as space combat look like for us. Ships with mostly ion cannons or missiles have been tried, and basically the first type is only more useful depending on the circumstances, and the latter - the missile boat type - ends up a support ship, complementing TL ships with missile fire.

For example, missiles are clearly an expensive way of cracking a planetary shield, even in the case of the specialized systems and torpedoes of a Torpedo Sphere. Missiles may be more effective ton for ton in anti-ship capability, but that's not the only - or even the most important - task for warships. Ultimately, warships are a tool to achieve strategic and tactical objectives... which basically boils down to controlling supply lines, important resources and strategic points, and if you can't control them, at least deny them to the enemy. Defeating enemy warships is none of those, that's just a (potential) obstacle along the way among several others.

In short, I don't want to either downplay the value of missiles or upgrade it. They have their place, which is different from turbolasers as a weapons system, and that's it. What we can learn from all this is mainly that missiles should be used sparingly, but can be expected to be comparatively efficient when utilized. Which wasn't much of news, I suppose. But it's nice to have some numbers for a baseline.
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Jericho Winters » 2014-10-10 05:14

Interesting posts. I have a question though.Which system would a tie fire control be utilized more (or be more efficient)for? Missiles , tl's. Or both?
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Kane » 2014-10-11 10:16

I would call that a draw. While missiles are guided and turbolaser bolts aren't, you still need to get that firing solution or you're shooting in the dark. The fire-and-forget type of missiles are really ineffective unless you've first selected the target and then gotten within effective range of it. The increased effectiveness per fire rate over line of sight guns is due to the missile's guidance, which can steer it to the target even after it was launched. Without that guidance, missiles would be dumbfire rockets, which would be no more accurate than any other kind of line of sight fun.

So if you remove the firing solution for missiles, they'd save up on space and still be comparable with line of sight weaponry in terms of accuracy. But then you would be trading accuracy for saving space - not a good equation when your weapon is expensive.
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Dravius Stari » 2014-10-11 13:16

For the me the difficulty in writing my ship commander character has been the place of missiles. Having them brings you flexibility, but I struggle for when it might be useful (note im not trying to get tips here, its just my line of thinking) For me the value in your post is a bit of a reminder that 'hey dont forget missiles, they exist and they're good'

Part of that too (for me anyway) I suppose, seems to be the usefulness of the basic laser weapons. They're incredibly useful and powerful, and you don't have ammo issues (although of course they draw power, so I suppose you have to manage your power)

So in any case, its all fascinating reading - thanks for posting this :)

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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by jacenwesiri » 2014-10-13 03:46

Jericho Winters wrote:Interesting posts. I have a question though.Which system would a tie fire control be utilized more (or be more efficient)for? Missiles , tl's. Or both?
I think you're asking the wrong question. The better question would be more along the lines of whether or not it would be useful to do so. Anyways, first things first, I'll link the description from the database.
The TIE/fc is a forward short-range scout much like the Vanguard. The difference is that the fc is specially equpipped with targeting sensors, jam-resistant comlinks and advanced targeting computers. It is designed to relay targeting and fire control information back to the main fleet. In addition to augmenting the targeting abilities of capital ships, the TIE/fc is valuable as a targeting assist for starfighters as well, able to "paint" a target, acting as a target acquisition craft for missile strikes. It often supplements or replaces the TIE/rc. In an environment with heavy jamming (basically any naval battle) it is an invaluable aid for navy long range fire. Although slower than the standard TIE/ln, its extended sensor range and exceptional maneuverability helps the pilot to hover close to its target and relay data without being intercepted by ship point defences.
So the primary purpose of the tie/fc is to relay targeting and firecontrol information back to the main fleet. In this context, I would suggest that by fleet, it means capital ships. Then, as a secondary focus, it can act as a target acquisition craft for missile strikes, with that whole sentence mentioning it in terms of star fighters.

There is a fundamental weakness with relaying firecontrol data to a missile mid flight. If you can send the missile data, so can the enemy. Normally, this would be protected with encryption, but that doesn't mean that the enemy can't decipher it. A nice historical example of this can be found with the Battle of the Beams Beyond that, they could use ECM to counter your ability to communicate with it. Yes, the description says jam resistant commlinks. That's all fine and good, but you know what, it doesn't say jam proof commlinks. To deal with jamming, you need to be able to send some sort of signal that the enemy cannot replicate. A little aside into ECM here. Anyways, while you can change the exact encryption periodically, or make plans such as changing encryption protocols periodically in combat, the problem is that everyone needs to be on the same page. Sure, you might leave fighters out, but during WW2, fighter pilots chatting on open airwaves was very easy to exploit for intelligence purposes.

So yeah, it's questionable at how effective a TIE/fc might be at directing a missile midflight. If I had to guess, the part about painting a target is really about using say TIE/sa's to carry some very heavy ordinance, and then have TIE/fc's be the firecontrol for it. It's an interesting tactic, but I think it would be more along the lines of niche purposes, rather than for general combat. Along those lines, suppose you expect the enemy to attack a certain system. From the available intel on fleet positions, you know they're probably attacking along a certain vector. So you hide a few TIE/fc's and TIE/sa's with some very heavy missile ordinance, and some fighter escort, near a probable approach vector. After the enemy fleet moves in, then you wait to engage them in combat, then you can spring the trap, and wipe out the weaker ships that they have in the back of their formation, like carriers, interdictors, damaged ships, whatever. That would be an innovative use for that function, but the problem would be that if you would use that in the thick of it, they could shoot down the TIE/fc's, which makes the entire thing pointless, not to mention ECM possibilities.
Dravius Stari wrote:Part of that too (for me anyway) I suppose, seems to be the usefulness of the basic laser weapons. They're incredibly useful and powerful, and you don't have ammo issues (although of course they draw power, so I suppose you have to manage your power)
I don't think there is any real question that turbolaser or laser cannons are more flexible than missiles. You can modulate the beams, mess with the focus to in effect create flak, or whatnot. It's much more difficult to say change out a warhead, and even if you could, you'd be risking a catastrophe in a premature detonation. For a smaller ship, that might even be enough to finish it off.
Kane wrote:Well, I would separate space combat into two distinct parts - deep space and planetary space, the latter being inside a star system or similar environment with gravitational or other space hazards present. We rarely get into the first, given that deep space is nothing to fight over, but there may be exceptions. The Battle of Coruscant in AOTC happened because the Republic failed to detect and intercept the Confederacy in time, for example. Even at the very edge of a star system where there's no gravitational influence to speak of, the battle is still one concerning system resources and obstacles. That's what defines it in my opinion, rather than proximity to planetary or system defences. Of course most of our battles progress as you have described, since it's usually the most expedient way to handle said obstacles.
I would divide it into three types. There would be expected to be battles in deep space, but I would deem them to be rather rare. Even if you know the general location of the enemy fleet and how they're coming, it would take a lot of resources to cover the various routes. The second kind would be within planetary systems or other various formations of matter in space, but far enough away to maintain freedom of maneuver. The third type would be moving close enough to those bodies, asteroids, comets, shards, or whatever so that they affect the battle, whether from a strong force of gravity, navigational hazards or similar. But really, such divisions might really just be semantics.
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Jericho Winters » 2014-10-13 07:02

The TIE/fc starfighter, which stood for "fire control", was a variant of the TIE/LN starfighter. It carried only one laser cannon, as several sensors replaced the second laser cannon found on traditional TIE fighters. The TIE/gt starfighter was designed to be dependent on the precise targeting information provided by the TIE/fc starfighter, though large structures could still be destroyed without the TIE/fc's assistance.

The TIE/fc was primarily designed to scan an enemy base and transmit the information back to the fleet. The fleet ships would then be able to attack the base and evade the enemy's defenses. Because of its importance, the craft was designed to be very maneuverable.(Wookieepedia)
I was actually looking at space to ground targets over the ecliptic or (over the horizon) with the tie fc as ships wouldn't necessarily have a targeting solution plotted to something they can't see.

In my mind that tie face could 'buzz over a target area' on oth shots with missiles. If the data was pre collated into the firing solution for the capship missile strike- say in asteroid fields etc then even with the communication delay I don't think they'd alter missile paths mid flight
but you do raise some possibilities for out of ground support operations.
I hadn't considered space based wWith fighters .

Ps typing this with my phone so I apologize if my questions are kinda. Hard to get or are misleading when read.
Thanks jacen for the input, same to you ace and drav. :)
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Tavish McFini » 2014-11-30 04:30

Coming in late to this discussion and I glossed most of it but I always figured, in this case, why use missiles when turbolasers are about as effective in space?

I imagine missiles would tend to be shorter ranged and in much more limited supply than turbolasers. Now, if Star Destroyers were equipped with cannons like what were found on WWII era battleships, I think it'd be no contest: they'd probably strip those cannons off in favor of missiles since the size of a shell compared to the size of a missile would be pretty close and the missile would carry more advantages in this case like tracking, auto-correcting/compensation and even faster speed.

But, with lasers, we're using Tibanna gas and energy to create a superheated plasma essentially which removes the need for a propellant, shell casing and all that good stuff like what battleship cannons fire.
Kane wrote:We rarely get into the first, given that deep space is nothing to fight over, but there may be exceptions.
TIE Fighter disagrees with you, but, I suppose that's more the fault of 90's era video game development/limitations than actual strategical canon. :P
Kane wrote:... the cruiser-sized multi-billion ultra-modern Zumwalt class even uses balsa wood as part of its biocomposite armour.
... And you know, back in about 2003, I remember running a RIFTS campaign where half the leading joke was that the Free Quebec naval fleet was built out of balsa wood because they had spent all the money on Glitter Boy development... ... ah memories.
Kane wrote:We also have Fini's MISS, which is directly analogous to automatic short-range CIWS, and the MIST system. Generally speaking, modern Earth short-range interception missiles are a lot more effective than CIWS, because they're guided and have much longer range. A missile that's intercepted too close may still hit you with shrapnel and burning fuel.
I literally made MISS as a Star Wars version of CIWS when I realized "hey, in every Star Wars game I've played, capital ships have zero missile defense save for any hot-shot TIE pilots- usually myself- able to intercept missiles or torpedoes before they impact the vessel. Why don't I bring that into the NIF?" I like to think it worked to some degree. After all, the Int is still around! :D
Kane wrote:We have flares, chaff, flak, cluster bombs, cluster missiles, and you could undoubtedly just fire a regular concussion missile as an interceptor, particularly in burst mode. Arguably, turbolasers can be used in flak mode as well, and of course, any type of common energy weapon - turbolaser, laser, blaster cannon - can be used for hard kill interception, with varying degrees of effectiveness.
We also have decoy and jamming beams, at least, the TIEs with beam compartment modules do but I just as easily assume if a TIE can carry such a thing, why not fit a few dozen to the hull of a massive 1.6km long ship? That said... why don't we? Or do we in the form of whatever ECM we employ? And what about tractor beams? We could just use those to push missiles and torpedoes away, diverting them to go fly into a nearby moon or even another enemy ship if it's around. After all, if a tractor beam can hold a capital ship in place, there's absolutely no reason why it couldn't push some missiles/torps/bombs about.
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Kane » 2014-12-02 10:01

So recently I had reason to revisit this topic. Also, I get at least three points extra for alliteration.

The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System has 29 successful intercepts out of 35 tests, leading to a success rate of 82,9%.

1 = 0,82857142857142857142857142857143
2 = 0,68653061224489795918367346938704
3 = 0,5688396501457725947521865889204
4 = 0,47132428154935443565181174510523

Probability then decrees that if four missiles are fired against it, they have a 53% probability to hit once, 43% probability to hit twice, 31% probability to hit thrice, and 17% probability to hit frice ( in nonstandard English).

It's more complex than that, of course. For example you can expect the system to have been improved over time and be even better. But the laws of probability works the same, at any rate. There's also the case that probability to hit would vary with the missile used, never being 100%. Even if you could build a missile like that, it's not cost-effective compared to building a missile with say, 75% hit rate.
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Medusa » 2016-02-14 12:02

jacenwesiri wrote:...going by some of Ackbar's comments in Return of the Jedi, it's suicidal for the Rebel Fleet to get too close to the Star Destroyers, which would suggest that part of the balancing between ISDs and Mon Cals is that they are moreover balanced at range, where the Mon Cals can take a few stray shots, but when you get too close, the lowered range bringing increased accuracy would be expected to favor the ISDs, which lines up with Ackbar's comment.
That would be an explanation, but another explanation would be that Alliance ship sensors, less sophisticated than imperial ones at the time, would have a harder time detecting, targeting and firing against incoming warheads at such close range.
Tavish McFini wrote:I literally made MISS as a Star Wars version of CIWS when I realized "hey, in every Star Wars game I've played, capital ships have zero missile defense save for any hot-shot TIE pilots- usually myself- able to intercept missiles or torpedoes before they impact the vessel. Why don't I bring that into the NIF?" I like to think it worked to some degree. After all, the Int is still around!
As a classic TIE Fighter player, I agree. Remember, thought, that capital ships were supposed to have way more weapon placements, but didn't because each was treated as fighter-equivalent and would have clogged the game to a standstill (stated by the game developers). 'Real' laser and turbolaser barrages would certainly be a deadly kind of flak. MISS-E* are supposed to be the very best of anti-starfighter and anti-warhead PDS. As such, I suppose anti-starfighter lasers are redundant or obsolete and most capital ships should concentrate on heavy turbolaser batteries, interceptor beams and MISS PDS.

[*] Then it comes MIST, that is stated to not damage shielded fighters, but is not stated to do zero damage against small shields. If so, a barrage of (at first) undetectable MIST projected shields would subsequently degrade starfighter shields to the point of shredding the finally unshielded starfighter (OMG! HAX!). This would require missile countermeasures to the same degree as real life ones, that are reaching the point to be so expensive that actually is the cheap target who is defeating the costly missile, even when successfully engaged.
Last edited by Medusa on 2016-02-15 10:17, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by jacenwesiri » 2016-02-15 06:56

Kane wrote:The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System has 29 successful intercepts out of 35 tests, leading to a success rate of 82,9%.

1 = 0,82857142857142857142857142857143
2 = 0,68653061224489795918367346938704
3 = 0,5688396501457725947521865889204
4 = 0,47132428154935443565181174510523

Probability then decrees that if four missiles are fired against it, they have a 53% probability to hit once, 43% probability to hit twice, 31% probability to hit thrice, and 17% probability to hit frice ( in nonstandard English).
Slight Correction, using your example of 4 shots fired and how how many hits would be expected to hit. This is using the binomial distribution, which I think better fits what I think you were going for. Here's something on it.

Going with p = 29/35, then q = 1 - p = 6/35, it would yield as follows.
  • P(no Hits) = nCr(4,0) p^4 = 1 * (29/35)^4 = 0.471324282
  • P(1 Hit) = nCr(4,1) * (p^3)*(q) = 4 * ((29/35)^3) * ((6/35)^1) = 0.390061474
  • P(2 Hit) = nCr(4,2) * (p^2)*(q^2) = 6 * ((29/35)^2) * ((6/35)^2) = 0.121053561
  • P(1 Hit) = nCr(4,3) * (p)*(q^3) = 4 * ((29/35)^1) * ((6/35)^3) = 0.016697043
  • P(1 Hit) = nCr(4,4) * (q^4) = 1 * ((6/35)^4) = 0.00086364
Of course, that's assuming that they only fire at each missile once. If they fire at each missile twice, the results become
  • p(0 hits) = 0.887530045
  • p(1 hit) = 0.10748892
  • p(2 hits) = 0.004881751
  • p(3 hits) = 9.85383E-05
  • p(4 hits) = 7.45874E-07
Really, we'd be assuming that any incoming missile would have to make it past the Aegis defense, and then past the CIWS before hitting. I'm not sure how effective the CIWS is, but given that the two interceptor missiles per incoming enemy missile only yields about a 10% chance of anything getting in, that seems somewhat high for protecting a billion dollar asset.

My understanding is that the Aegis at least used to be able to track about 64 targets simultaneously. It might be better by this point, in which case, using the binomial distribution should be sufficient up to that limit. Afterwords, it would probably start getting messy, and require a lot of assumptions that can't realistically be made without access to classified information, that I don't have.

So I was trying to edit the table to make it approximate rows. I don't seem to be able to do that, so does this man that the board automatically applies kerning? It might have been around for a while with me missing that. Is it also eating two spaces and leaving one?
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by Kane » 2016-02-16 00:53

jacenwesiri wrote:My understanding is that the Aegis at least used to be able to track about 64 targets simultaneously. It might be better by this point, in which case, using the binomial distribution should be sufficient up to that limit. Afterwords, it would probably start getting messy, and require a lot of assumptions that can't realistically be made without access to classified information, that I don't have.
The exact reason why a binomial distribution doesn't apply.
jacenwesiri wrote:So I was trying to edit the table to make it approximate rows. I don't seem to be able to do that, so does this man that the board automatically applies kerning? It might have been around for a while with me missing that. Is it also eating two spaces and leaving one?

Code: Select all

Normal formatting includes kerning. For   unformatted   text   and   tables,   use   the   Code   bbcode.
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Re: On the effectiveness of missiles

Post by jacenwesiri » 2016-02-16 02:57

The simplifying assumption I made is that it is a set of independent events. I might be wrong on that, but really, neither of our calculations would be correct if they weren't independent. The point I was making about tracking targets was that it gets messy beyond that point because, for example, it's not really known how fast it can cycle through new targets. I think there's so much guesswork in that kind of estimates, that point aren't really worthwhile. (The useful information is certainly classified.) Another possible

The binomial distribution works fine in this case, because it's just working out the probability of each outcome, and then multiplying it by the number of ways that outcome can be attained.

Right, so there's only one way that all four missiles could not hit, or that all four missiles could hit. So, nCr(4,0) = nCr(4,4) = 1. Likewise, with only one hitting or three hitting (which is only one missing), with four missiles, there are four ways of selecting that. nCr(4,1) = nCr(4,3) = 4. The only remaining case is two missiles hitting, which has 6 distinct possibilities, and I'll use ordered pairs to denote which ones hit. (1,2), (1,3), (1,4), (2,3), (2,4), (3,4). That would be all the possible ways that two missiles could hit. Not surprisingly, nCr(4,2) = 6. Of course, then there is a p probability of hitting, and a (1-p) probability of missing. When you multiply the appropriate probabilities for the hits and misses together with the number of ways that can come about, that's just the term for the binomial distribution. That's really all that's going on there. I didn't mean to preach too much there, hopefully just enough of an explanation for why that is the binomial distribution.

What you were calculating by multiplying the probabilities together was the chance of 1 missile hit for one missile launched, and two missiles hit for two launched, and so on and so forth.

And the thing about kerning is interesting. I don't think I want to know exactly when that started. I'd like to say in the most recent update, but it's probably been doing that for years and I just hadn't noticed it yet. :D Regardless, it does make the text easier to read.
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