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Third Fleet and Apollo ships in the Battle of Manticore

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Re: Third Fleet and Apollo ships in the Battle of Manticore
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Thu Mar 12, 2020 6:16 pm

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Galactic Sapper wrote:
ThinksMarkedly wrote:That would mean ground-based facilities would need to be forbidden everywhere, and not just cannons and missile batteries, but also barracks, command centres, depots, etc. Requiring any defensive equipment to be located not just out of orbit low, medium, high or geostationary orbits, but a full light-second away (Moon's orbit) would mean it's unmanageable for the majority of systems that don't have sufficient space technology. I think that fails the test of reasonableness.

Nonsense. One, guess where fixed missile launchers tend to be sited? Yup, on moons. Not ground level on the planet.


Why is that? Why not set it closer to the targets that you need to defend? If you site them on a moon, then an enemy that puts itself between the satellite and your planet is now making you fire in the direction of your planet. That's a blind spot. Siting on a satellite a light-second away also introduces a two-second delay on your control loop from ground-based HQ (absent FTL comms, which no one but the GA yet has).

Also, rocky planets suitable for human habitation are actually very good sources of resources too. In our Solar System, aside of the deep gravity wells of the Sun and the gas giants, the largest concentration of minerals is on Earth. Not just the largest concentration, well over half of the mass is on Earth. The reason we today want to mine the asteroids is because for us it's difficult to launch raw materials from the bottom of our gravity well, but that doesn't seem to be a problem in the Honorverse.

Again, I don't think you have to make it easy for your enemy to hit the targets from tens of millions of km away. If you can't hit accurately from that distance and make sure you don't hit the planet or civilian infra, then come closer. Through the gauntlet of fire.

You're absolutely reveling in the human shield tactic here. You, effectively: "Sure, you can shoot the artillery I have in the hospital parking lot. But you have to get your tanks within direct fire range to do it, or else you might hit my hospital! Guess you better like having hundreds of shells raining on you while you get close!" Cue evil maniacal laughter.

No. Even under the Geneva Conventions, it's legal to flatten the damn hospital under those circumstances and the war crime is on YOU for putting your artillery there in the first place (and under a strict reading of the Conventions, it also voids the protection of every other marked medical facility you own for the duration of the conflict). That latter half has never been used to my knowledge, but for damn sure the first half has.


I agree on not having civilians as human (or treecat or other sophonts) shields, but I disagree on how close you seem to consider it. It depends on how accurate your weapons are. Suppose you have a military airfield today that is 10 km outside of a populated city, with only farmland around it (because no one but cows want to live close to the noise of jet engines). Is that a reasonable distance? That depends on how accurate your bombs are: if you're launching an ICBM that has accuracy of 25 km, you may hit 15 km into the city, which might very well be the densest populated region. Ditto for the blast radius: even if you could hit dead centre of that airfield, a nuke with a 50 km blast radius and irradiation will doom the city.

I maintain my opinion that defensive installations in orbit are ok and the attacker should close to sufficient range to make hitting them viable, all the while sustaining fire from those very same installations.

All that said, does the text actually say they pods were in actual orbit of the Manticoran planets? Or how far they were? If I were the RMN, I wouldn't put them within a light-second of where any passing freighter with myopic sensors might spot them, however good the stealth is. Given enough sensing time, passive sensors could spot light reflection from the primary and a wandering dot (or cluster of dots) is pretty noticeable. And Apollo pods don't need to be anywhere close to fire for the three hours an enemy would take to reach orbit.
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Re: Third Fleet and Apollo ships in the Battle of Manticore
Post by kzt   » Thu Mar 12, 2020 9:21 pm

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It's the responsibility of the attacker not to commit mass murder. You can't say "Well, I only have 50 gigaton warheads on my missiles, it's their fault they built the missile battery only 1200 km away from the capital."

So the fact that the attacker choose to deploy frac-C missiles is on the attacker if something goes wrong. And it's easy to go wrong.

The difference between hitting the planet and effective laserhead range is about 200 milliseconds. So if the warhead detonates at 50,000 km range the several hundred tons of missile will be a diffuse sphere of plasma about 400 km in diameter when it hits the atmosphere at 240,000 km second.

I'm unclear exactly what will happen, but I suspect that dumping 20,000 megatons of energy into the atmosphere will be bad. Like setting fire to the entire hemisphere bad.

So you can't have a self-destruct for missing targets close to the planet. There isn't time. You'd have to decide at least 10 seconds prior that you are on a collision course for the planet to allow the plasma cloud to have some probability of minimal damage. So your minimum range is at least 8 light seconds, and 12+ would be good.
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Re: Third Fleet and Apollo ships in the Battle of Manticore
Post by SharkHunter   » Fri Mar 13, 2020 8:42 am

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kzt wrote:It's the responsibility of the attacker not to commit mass murder. You can't say "Well, I only have 50 gigaton warheads on my missiles, it's their fault they built the missile battery only 1200 km away from the capital."

So the fact that the attacker choose to deploy frac-C missiles is on the attacker if something goes wrong. And it's easy to go wrong.

The difference between hitting the planet and effective laserhead range is about 200 milliseconds. So if the warhead detonates at 50,000 km range the several hundred tons of missile will be a diffuse sphere of plasma about 400 km in diameter when it hits the atmosphere at 240,000 km second.

I'm unclear exactly what will happen, but I suspect that dumping 20,000 megatons of energy into the atmosphere will be bad. Like setting fire to the entire hemisphere bad.

So you can't have a self-destruct for missing targets close to the planet. There isn't time. You'd have to decide at least 10 seconds prior that you are on a collision course for the planet to allow the plasma cloud to have some probability of minimal damage. So your minimum range is at least 8 light seconds, and 12+ would be good.
This is an absolutely brilliant post. Perfectly aligns with why Kuzak would have told Sphinx to hold fire.
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All my posts are YMMV, IMHO, and welcoming polite discussion, extension, and rebuttal. This is the HonorVerse, after all
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Re: Third Fleet and Apollo ships in the Battle of Manticore
Post by Galactic Sapper   » Fri Mar 13, 2020 6:15 pm

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kzt wrote:It's the responsibility of the attacker not to commit mass murder.

It's the responsibility of the defender not to set up a situation where that's likely to happen. That's why I'm commenting on the difference between the EE and the Geneva Conventions. Under the logic behind the Geneva Conventions, it's a war crime to place the defenses there to begin with. Let that sink in for a bit: even the Red Cross thinks it better to allow an attacker to hit a hospital as collateral damage than to let someone hide behind it for tactical advantage.

Besides, you're doing all the calculations for a missile fired directly at the planet rather than firing past the planet and using the laser head's range to shoot sideways to targets directly in front of the planet. The real range limitation is how close you have to be to be absolutely sure that your missiles won't have a lateral course error of 10k kms or so.
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Re: Third Fleet and Apollo ships in the Battle of Manticore
Post by Galactic Sapper   » Fri Mar 13, 2020 6:27 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:Why is that? Why not set it closer to the targets that you need to defend? If you site them on a moon, then an enemy that puts itself between the satellite and your planet is now making you fire in the direction of your planet. That's a blind spot. Siting on a satellite a light-second away also introduces a two-second delay on your control loop from ground-based HQ (absent FTL comms, which no one but the GA yet has).

I don't believe it's ever explicitly stated but it almost certainly is out of consideration that such launchers would attract hostile fire and any body they're sited on is bound to grow a few new craters if the planet is ever attacked. It just seems that the same consideration was never extended to orbital defenses even though it logically should have been.

I agree on not having civilians as human (or treecat or other sophonts) shields, but I disagree on how close you seem to consider it. It depends on how accurate your weapons are. Suppose you have a military airfield today that is 10 km outside of a populated city, with only farmland around it (because no one but cows want to live close to the noise of jet engines). Is that a reasonable distance? That depends on how accurate your bombs are: if you're launching an ICBM that has accuracy of 25 km, you may hit 15 km into the city, which might very well be the densest populated region. Ditto for the blast radius: even if you could hit dead centre of that airfield, a nuke with a 50 km blast radius and irradiation will doom the city.


If you're building an installation which you know is going to attract attacks with weapons that leave that big of a crater, common sense indicates you build it where nothing of value is going to be inside that crater.

I maintain my opinion that defensive installations in orbit are ok and the attacker should close to sufficient range to make hitting them viable, all the while sustaining fire from those very same installations.


I don't expect you to change your mind on that, but I do expect you to admit that it's blatantly hiding behind civilians to do so. The primary defense of those installations is that no one dare attack them for fear of hitting civilians.

All that said, does the text actually say they pods were in actual orbit of the Manticoran planets? Or how far they were? If I were the RMN, I wouldn't put them within a light-second of where any passing freighter with myopic sensors might spot them, however good the stealth is. Given enough sensing time, passive sensors could spot light reflection from the primary and a wandering dot (or cluster of dots) is pretty noticeable. And Apollo pods don't need to be anywhere close to fire for the three hours an enemy would take to reach orbit.

Orbit or close enough to it that they cannot be attacked with MDMs for fear of hitting the planet. Note that's not even ballistic MDMs, that's MDM's still under power and at least partial shipboard control. So they're really freaking close to the planet. Think hundreds or thousands of kilometers not tens of thousands.
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Re: Third Fleet and Apollo ships in the Battle of Manticore
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:40 pm

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Galactic Sapper wrote:I don't believe it's ever explicitly stated but it almost certainly is out of consideration that such launchers would attract hostile fire and any body they're sited on is bound to grow a few new craters if the planet is ever attacked. It just seems that the same consideration was never extended to orbital defenses even though it logically should have been.


And yet as of only 10 years ago, no one fought battles from over a million km away. Battles were decided on energy range, not with missiles. Light follows a straight line (strictly, a 4D geodesic), so enemies knew not to hit the planet.

But now there are several versions of MDMs, some good and some crude. By logical extension of your argument, AFAIU, now that defences can be engaged from 30 million km away with Cataphract-Bs, which are myopically blind at that distance, everyone should move their defensive installations further out from the planets. In other words, you have to make it easy for your enemy to hit you, because they have crude weapons that might not.

If you're building an installation which you know is going to attract attacks with weapons that leave that big of a crater, common sense indicates you build it where nothing of value is going to be inside that crater.[snip]
I don't expect you to change your mind on that, but I do expect you to admit that it's blatantly hiding behind civilians to do so. The primary defense of those installations is that no one dare attack them for fear of hitting civilians.


I do. Hiding behind civilians is not correct. You're right that it's the responsibility of the defender not to put their civilians in danger by siting military installations of value too close to them. But it's also the responsibility of the attacker not to use weapons that, despite the precautions of the defender, may indiscriminately hit the civilians anyway. An antimatter warhead (which doesn't seem to exist in the Honorverse) could for example wreck enough of the moon that would affect tides and throw debris on the planet anyway, à la Yawata Strike.

We only disagree on what that line is. And clearly it's not a sharp line.

Orbit or close enough to it that they cannot be attacked with MDMs for fear of hitting the planet. Note that's not even ballistic MDMs, that's MDM's still under power and at least partial shipboard control. So they're really freaking close to the planet. Think hundreds or thousands of kilometers not tens of thousands.


Havenite missiles don't have that good an accuracy from tens of millions of km away. It might be tens of thousands of km.
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Re: Third Fleet and Apollo ships in the Battle of Manticore
Post by Jonathan_S   » Sat Mar 14, 2020 7:42 am

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:And yet as of only 10 years ago, no one fought battles from over a million km away. Battles were decided on energy range, not with missiles. Light follows a straight line (strictly, a 4D geodesic), so enemies knew not to hit the planet.
10 years ago would have been 1912 PD - after Trevor's Star had been taken and Honor captured and on Cerberus.

Missiles were definitely the main ways battles were fought, and those battles started with tsunamis of missiles from towed pods launched from around seven million km away!

Still vastly closer than the 50 million that was the pre-Apollo reasonably effective MDM range - but hardly close enough you didn't have to worry about stray shots


And even for the last few centuries battle might have been ended by energy range fire - but they were still started with missile exchanges. (Even if they were "just" nukes and didn't have the warhead standoff range of laswerheads)
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Re: Third Fleet and Apollo ships in the Battle of Manticore
Post by Brigade XO   » Sat Mar 14, 2020 12:47 pm

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EE violations and Conventions. The next problem is that we are going to be dealing with the Alignment here and they don't actualy care. The only reason they took any care at all with the Yawata Strike (other than not wasting weapons missing and heading down into the gravity wells) was they wanted to skirt around the technical part of the EE but didn't care that the debris of the stations and other things in planitary orbits would fall on to planets.

Though some in the SL were appalled at the loss of life, NOBODY is reported as wanting to go hunting the entity that attacked the Manticore System as someone who had commited an EE violation.

The Aligment really just doesn't care. What's a few hundred thousand more deaths? 10 million + more deaths- like their bombing the three orbital habitats at Beowulf? At best those killed were less than cattle to the Alignment and a revenge lesson for themselves not pulling off Houdini fully in time. Remember it was their head man who triggered (and who installed them in those places) all those weapons in the Mesa system.

The Alignment wants to inflictd it's grand plan on all of humanity and is determined to remain in the shadows. It appears they remain supremely confident that they will not be caught and held accountable for any of what they have done and what they plan to do in the future. The pathetic "normals" have pissed them off but now that they have lashed out at Beowulf the Alignment can get back to the serious work of those normals that do survive into puppets and raw materials for the Galactic Empire.

The Alignment will be screaming "it's unfair" when Harrington - or someone else- shows up at Darius and .....well, it would just be too bad if the Alighment didn't decide to surrender or there was an oops! moment.
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Re: Third Fleet and Apollo ships in the Battle of Manticore
Post by Galactic Sapper   » Sat Mar 14, 2020 5:30 pm

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Brigade XO wrote:EE violations and Conventions. The next problem is that we are going to be dealing with the Alignment here and they don't actualy care. The only reason they took any care at all with the Yawata Strike (other than not wasting weapons missing and heading down into the gravity wells) was they wanted to skirt around the technical part of the EE but didn't care that the debris of the stations and other things in planitary orbits would fall on to planets.

That's another difference between the Conventions and the Edict. Under the Conventions orbital debris would considered the same as blowing up a dam or nuclear reactor to release "dangerous forces" - a war crime to do it, but with exceptions permitted if the enemy is using them for regular support of combat forces and the attack is the only feasible way to end that support. The responsibility to avoid placing forces in close proximity to such things or to supply those forces with electricity from those things is the responsibility of the defending force.
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Re: Third Fleet and Apollo ships in the Battle of Manticore
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Sat Mar 14, 2020 6:27 pm

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Jonathan_S wrote:
ThinksMarkedly wrote:And yet as of only 10 years ago, no one fought battles from over a million km away. Battles were decided on energy range, not with missiles. Light follows a straight line (strictly, a 4D geodesic), so enemies knew not to hit the planet.
10 years ago would have been 1912 PD - after Trevor's Star had been taken and Honor captured and on Cerberus.

Missiles were definitely the main ways battles were fought, and those battles started with tsunamis of missiles from towed pods launched from around seven million km away!

Still vastly closer than the 50 million that was the pre-Apollo reasonably effective MDM range - but hardly close enough you didn't have to worry about stray shots


And even for the last few centuries battle might have been ended by energy range fire - but they were still started with missile exchanges. (Even if they were "just" nukes and didn't have the warhead standoff range of laswerheads)


Indeed the laser warhead changed things considerably, no doubt about it. Before then, the boom-or-burn nukes were largely ineffective against sidewalls -- burn-mode warheads were designed to take sidewalls down but were not very good at it. The laser warhead came to change that.

But even then, and even in 1912, missiles were used to soften up the enemy. There hadn't yet been many pod-driven battles: the majority of engagements were still old-style. It's possible that the Battle of Trevor's Star saw a large deployment of pods, but I think it's unlikely it was the decisive factor: the Peeps were unprepared for that when Buttercup came.

The range was also very limited. If your enemy was within 7 million km of your planet, you'd almost already lost. The defenders wouldn't have stayed and invited the attackers to come at them -- that would indeed have been close to using human shields. The chance that the enemy also take potshots at your orbital industry cannot be discounted (remember: it can't dodge very well, so even lasers can do damage). Not to mention that you'd be leaving the attackers free reign of the outer system. Think Zanzibar.

You'd leave some reserves, nothing bigger than a cruiser.

Anyway, pre-MDM, I also don't see the need for orbital missile pods. Post MDM, I don't see the need for orbital missile pods.
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