Monday, June 29, 2015

Anti-missile EWAR, no brainer!

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 64th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.

Torpedo! Torpedo! Torpedo!
With the Aegis release we will see missile boats get their own version of the tracking enhancer and the tracking computer. On the forums there have been calls for new 'missile defence eWar' to counter these new modules. Is this needed? Are smartbomb 'firewalls' enough? Do defender missiles need an overhaul to make them actually worth using? Do we need the missile version of the remote tracking disruptor? Or do we go all Star Trek and have Point-Defence Phaser Banks? Banter on!


IRL (a poor comparison for sure), there are so many ways to defeat missile systems, that there is a constant arms race between the missiles and the missile defense systems. In Eve, the missiles have been winning this battle for the last 12 years! Let's look at a few (or more than a few) ways that missiles should be able to be distracted.

First off, we have active countermeasures, that is to say, defender missiles, or in real life terms
Make no mistake, missile on missile action is hot, but with all these fancy guns running around the universe, how is this not a thing?
Okay, maybe it's just because I have a long term love affair with anti-missile systems, but seriously, smartbombs and the terribleness that is defender missiles can't possibly be the only solutions. We need more effective highslot countermeasures. Possible avenues could be if you "target" your defender missiles on an aggressor, they engage *ANY* missile that target shoots, not just if they shoot at you. After all, current anti-missile missiles are targeted with directional radar or built in radar or IR sensors, the missiles don't need to just be headed towards you to be engaged. For that matter, how come defender missiles can't engage drones? That should totally be a thing, after all, missiles can engage other missiles and even airplanes, or other ships!

Now we need to have a quick discussion about HOW missiles work in Eve, I mean the under the hood stuff. Are missiles initially directed by a targeting lock, and have a backup radar, or final guidance package? Given how ECM works, and the inability (for any missile system except the FoF missiles) to engage unlocked targets, we can assume the missiles are target directed by the launching ship, and have minimal, if any on board guidance package. Let's say that's because the missiles use all that space for a bigger warhead, or more fuel for longer range, bigger engines for faster engagement speed. Whatever, it still goes to say that the FoF missiles, who have lower damage, is because some of that warhead space is sacrificed for internal guidance. Cool, at least now we have a jumping off point.

Right now, the only effective ECM vs missiles is making them either unable to lock (Jam cycle) or not have the range to lock (damps). Tracking disruptors are totally useless vs missile systems, and target painters enhance the signature of their targets, buffing missile damage against smaller or sig tanking targets. of course some might say that two types of ECM that's effective vs missiles is enough. So not true.

Right now there are tons of "real world" tech that's just begging to be implemented. Things like flare or chaff launchers, or passive anti-missile countermeasures, such as using tracking disruptors to fudge the attacking missiles ability to properly engage their targets. What we are missing, is the idea of depleting the missile overall swarm damage. Basically, once missiles are launched, if they hit, they are going to do some damage.

Tracking disruptors should reduce effective range of missiles, by forcing the missiles to do course corrections and confusing the guidance enough to force the missiles to expend some of their reaction mass maneuvering to the target. Additionally, they should cause some of the missile swarm to miss entirely, last second minute course corrections in space results in misses after all.

Chaff - Chaff is the current modern day equivalent of tossing a bunch of debris around or next to your ship to distract incoming fire. Mostly used to distract missiles with automatic targeting, which is much more prevalent today on Anti-ship missiles(ASM) than ASM missiles that are fly-by-wire or direct controlled by the firing ship. So this might be of limited use, because in space, it would likely be far-harder to confuse an entire ships-worth of targeting gear, than a single or group of missiles targeting, but still -
How about flares to do the same thing. Think of the amount of flare launchers that could be fit on a spaceship, and the potential for cool eve effects for spewing chaff and flares while missiles are inbound.
Ships spewing flares? YEZ PLEAZ.

Anyways, these two methods (Chaff, flares) are ways to actively distract target locks and missiles that have yet to be implemented. Utility high slot module anyone? t1 and t2 decoys? Lots of avenue for exploration here, but really just some countermeasures for the constant range and damage of missiles.

It's not about destroying missiles viability, it's about making them more vulnerable to countermeasure. And to give the countermeasures added or modified more use than they currently have. For instance, flares and chaff could countermeasure gun overall effectiveness, by messing up tracking. Defender missiles or Point defense guns, could engage drones, frigates and other "nearby" hostiles. Their low calibre shells would make them poor ship to ship weapons, but could still provide fire against smaller ships (Battleships vs frigates and dessy) or defense versus drones and missiles.

Seriously though, someone had to have thought of many better ways to counter missiles, ways we just don't see in game.

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