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Archive for the ‘sci-fi conceptual’ Category

Byzantine military doctrine in modern practice

Posted by Picard578 on August 17, 2018

While I originally wrote this for sci-fi setting I am working on, general principles are usable in modern world as well.


Laigin culture sees war as a necessary evil – but as the saying goes, “if you have to do something, you have no excuse for not doing it to the best of your ability”, and the Empire is constantly at war, surrounded by enemies. Typically there are two or three wars going on at the same time, even if most of those are minor, and difference between war and peace is merely a matter of planet’s location within the Empire. This has caused tensions between parallel condemnation of war in theory and rather militaristic ideology and structure in practice, which is resolved by the doctrine of “just war”. At its basic, this doctrine dictates that wars of conquest are unjust, while wars of defense or reconquest of lost territories are just wars and thus require no further justification. Warfare permeates all aspects of society, from culture to education, with civil defense being a mandatory class subject even from the primary school. War is waged for defense or to recover the lost territories – territories not willingly given away are always considered to belong to the Empire “by right”, regardless of the actual situation on the terrain, or how much time had passed since the loss. Defence of the state is the ultimate goal, on all levels and in all aspects of the policy. Therefore, there is no concept of “holy war” – defensive war is automatically just by virtue of defending the state and its people. But while no sin is incurred by participating in a just war, war is not religious but rather civic obligation, and cannot be used for absolution of sins. War is only waged for purpose of defending the state or its interests abroad, such as its allies. If goals can be achieved without fighting a war, they are achieved so and casualties are minimized where possible; but military is always kept prepared for war. Overall approach can be summed up as “do everything possible to raise, equip and train the best possible army and navy, and then do everything possible to use them as little as possible”. Prepare for war to avoid war.

The main aim in war is to win without having to fight a decisive battle, especially since the Empire is at best at equal footing with its enemies, and more often disadvantaged in terms of numbers and resources. Decisive battle is avoided because even in victory it may cause an unacceptable loss of resources, and in loss it is typically catastrophic. Victory is achieved through combination of delaying tactics and exploitation of enemy weaknesses, landscape and diplomacy. Generally, aim is not to destroy the enemy, but to reach a state of equilibrium – for a destroyed opponent leaves a power vacuum which will be filled by another power, or by lawless elements, whereas a weakened opponent can be negotiated with. Today’s enemy may be tomorrow’s ally, and large number of weaker enemies is better than smaller number of powerful enemies, as they can be played off against each other. Enemies are transient; only the Empire lasts forever. Hence, warfare is typically defensive, especially since enemies tend to be diverse and numerous. Hit and run raids are preferred approach, but pitched battles can and will be fought as well if no other recourse is practical. Scouting is crucial, and is typically done by light ships. Initiative is pursued, leading to typically agressive posture. Enemies will be mislead with false information, and allies sought that can attack the enemy from a different direction. Most useful allies are those closest to the enemy, as they know how to fight the enemy best. Internal conflicts may be decided by duel by champion, typically a sword fight, in order to avoid the possibility of devastating civil wars. COIN is avoided, and proxies liberally used.

Deception is likewise used, and is separated into concealment/camouflage, imitation/mimicry, simulation, disinformation and feints. The goal is to mislead the enemy with regards to Laigin political / grand-strategic, strategic, operational and tactical objectives and approaches. Surprise is the basis of military approach on all levels.

This approach is especially advantageous because each enemy is systematically studied, and local forces are trained to respond to enemy’s specific approach to war. Knowledge about enemies – their history, culture, politics etc. – is also incorporated into strategy manuals which provide political and military leaders with guidance on dealing with enemies and neighbours in general. Constant practice, interpretation and corrections ensure that manuals are always up-to-date. Military readiness is maintained, not only to fight the war once started but also to prevent the war from being fought at all.

Morale is recognized as being one of most important factors in success, and special emphasis is placed on intangible factors – morale itself, unit cohesiveness, tradition, interaction and links between active military and general populace. Officer competence is likewise recognised as a key, and incompetent officers are demoted or transferred to whatever position they are actually capable of serving at. Diplomacy and warfare go hand in hand, with diplomacy being used to achieve war goals and vice versa. Subversion is likewise understood to be the cheapest path to victory.


In offensive operations, goal is to cause maximum damage to enemy’s economy and material infrastructure – destruction of fortifications, orbital and urban installations, and severing of trade routes. This is typically employed in goal of persuading the enemy to accept a course of action most favourable for the Empire.

Heavy elements of the fleet are concentrated against key points. These points are selected to reduce enemy’s ability and will to fight. The objective is not to destroy the enemy, but as already noted, to make him more amenable to working with – instead of against – the Empire. As such, typical targets are orbital and system defense installations, while planets themselves are rarely if ever attacked.

At the same time, fast elements of the fleet – “cruiser” ships such as battlecruisers and light cruisers – are used to scout ahead of the main battle force, interdict enemy merchant and cargo traffic, and take out less-defended crucial points such as observation posts, and command centers where possible. Due to being more mobile, these elements can be more easily concentrated and deployed against any single threat. At times, half the cruiser fleet may be concentrated against a single target while still not compromising the security of the Empire thanks to existence of heavy elements. Light elements are regularly employed in hit-and-run raids as well as in attacks against important targets (focal points). In both cases, heavy fleet might be used to draw enemy attention elsewhere.

Allies will also be called upon, especially if they are in position to catch the enemy in the rear. Nomadic allies are particularly important as they are fast, mobile and also good source of information about enemy movements. When campaigning farther from Laigin territory, local allies will be contacted to provide information on the area and geopolitical situation, as well as help with scouting and intelligence gathering.

Offensive approach is also used for defensive purposes, launching pre-emptive attacks into enemy territory, and also by launching counter-invasions of the enemy territory. Offensive operations for the recovery of lost territory are also seen as inherently defensive.

When in enemy territory, and typically in friendly territory as well, fleet is organized in divisions. Frigate groups are deployed in groups along the perimeter of the fleet, acting as scouts and advanced warning screen. Main body is in the center of frigate dispositions. Some frigates are detached for independent scouting duty, using their greater speed and small sensory signature to range far ahead of the main force.

On ground, fire support missions can be called in by platoon leaders and up. Oftentimes, a platoon “on point” will be assigned a private pair of close air support aircraft. Specialized infantry units are equipped with jump packs, allowing them to scout ahead of tanks, while tanks provide direct fire support. Same approach is used by regular infantry in cities. When attacking defended positions, heavy artillery support will be called in, typically in the form of a creeping barrage. First step however is heavy scouting to identify enemy defensive positions, strongpoints and weak spots.

Units prefer to have a three-to-one local advantage in attack. In infantry, this means attacking element, fire support element and flanking element. In navy, there may be two flanking elements (side and top/bottom). Attacks, both ground and space, are carried out in waves. First wave will reach designated limit line, stop and reorganize; second wave will pass the first wave and keep advancing until it reaches its own limit line, at which point first wave, now fresh and reorganized, will launch its own attack. Laigin specialty are night attacks, which are slightly more difficult to organize but can be frighteningly effective, particularly against underequipped or technologically backwards enemies. These are typically done just before the dawn.

Infiltration tactics are heavily utilized in all situations. During fleet advance, detached frigate groups are deployed behind the enemy lines on a seek-and-destroy campaign against enemy logistical and civilian cargo ships, disrupting enemy’s logistics and economy. With time, such attacks can cause the enemy to redeploy more and more ships to guard convoys, weakening his front lines. Assaults against space stations and even planets are preceded by deployment of special forces to shut down or disrupt enemy defences from inside. On ground, special forces are deployed behind the enemy lines, identifying and possibly eliminating crucial targets. Assaults against static defensive lines are preceded by short but massive artillery bombardment against enemy defences and support structures (C4ISR, logistics, communication lines). Armoured units advance under cover of artillery fire, breaching the weakest points of enemy defences and then spreading out in the enemy rear area to cut off any support and reinforcements while infantry eliminates enemy front-line units. Breakthrough (in space or on ground) is reinforced by reserve forces with the aim of destroying enemy reserves, communications and supply depots.

Initial attack is made by several independent formations, with each operation designed to divert the enemy attention and prevent him from figuring out the real objective. Each formation has its own set of objectives, to be completed at formation’s discretion according to local conditions. Main objective of the attack is assigned to whichever unit is in best position to fulfill it. Alternatively, false attacks may be launched at points removed from the objective to draw out enemy reinforcements. Oftentimes, the goal of the attack – be it armoured or fleet attack – is simply to penetrate as deep behind the enemy lines as possible and cause as much damage to support structures as possible. If objective of the attack is particularly important and defended, several formations will combine before launching the attack.

When attacking enemy systems, frigate groups will attempt to destroy hyperspace sensors and comm buoys of several systems, along a broad area, to mask approach of the main force. This prevents the enemy from determining exact target of the attack until the moment of the attack. If possible, extraplanetary sensors in systems themselves will be neutralized as well. Approach to target world is preferably made from the opposite side of planet’s star to mask fleet’s signature. In several cases commanders even utilized hyperspace storms to mask fleet’s hyperspace signature, losing some ships in exchange for complete surprise. Fleet itself may approach the system formed in several battlegroups and from multiple directions, preventing the enemy from easily estimating the size of the force, and combine into one force just before combat contact. Some warships may even be equipped with false hull to disguise them as support ships.

Ground attacks use similar principles. Large forces will be simulated with dummy guns, tanks etc. while actual force may be dozens or hundreds of miles away, hidden by multispectral camouflage netting. Radio traffic will be likewise simulated. Troops are moved in secret, dug in and camouflaged.


Defense is seen as a primary duty of the military. Normal day-to-day operations of the Navy consist mostly of counter-attacks and raiding into enemy territories for purposes of destabilizing enemy posture and gathering information, as well as intercepting enemy raids against outposts and unfortified worlds (i.e. worlds without planetary shields). For border security Navy is aided by a number of secret listening and sensory posts outside of Empire’s borders. These scan hyperspace for any signatures and listen in communications, sending regular reports back to the Empire. Listening posts are reinforced by light scout ships. Any indication of an attack – unusual activity on border, massing of ships, listening post falling silent – prompts the Royal Navy to send a scouting force of frigates to check what has happened. At the same time, a cruiser force – consisting of battlecruisers, light cruisers and frigates – is assembled near the border to check the enemy incursion before the enemy crosses the border. Heavy force of battleships, heavy cruisers and destroyers is meanwhile assembled in the rear area, acting as a strategic reserve.

Once enemy force and likely route had been ascertained from reports provided by observation posts and scouting forces, battlecruiser force shadows it until battleship force gets into position to intercept. Once battleship force gets into position, battlecruiser force closes in and brings the enemy force out of hyperspace, keeping it in place until battleship force can perform the interception. If enemy force is slow enough, only light scouting units are used to shadow it until battleship and battlecruiser forces can perform simultaneous interception. Ideally, interception happens before the enemy crosses the border. If enemy fleet is small enough, and battleship force will not make it in time, battlecruiser force makes the interception on its own.

If enemy fleet is too powerful to be destroyed without heavy casualties, or interception could not be made in time, request for assistance from deeper sectors will be made. In such a case, enemy will be allowed to lay siege to border worlds in order to buy time for the fleets to gather, and will be continually shadowed by the battlecruiser force. If enemy force is a regular force from an established state – as opposed to e.g. nomadic group – cruiser portion of the fleet will launch counter-raids, possibly forcing the enemy to return in order to defend their own territory. Once fleets had gathered, an all-out assault may be made against the enemy fleet, and possibly enemy territory as well. If enemy fleet is still too powerful, attack will be made directly against enemy territory. If needed, fleets may be called in from all over the Empire, and if some fleets may not make it in time, they will be detailed to attack enemy territory instead. Since Laigin ships tend to be somewhat faster than enemy counterparts, any division of enemy force opens it up to possibility of defeat in detail. Attacks against planets typically require ground forces except in rare cases where no planetary shields are present. These forces require supplies, meaning that no direct fleet engagement is required except in rare cases when enemy brings truly overwhelming force to bear. Supplies are brought in by cargo ships, which are vulnerable to interception by light fleet forces. Enemy army supplies are similarly attacked, and any groundside supplies either moved to defended depots or destroyed outright. Once worn down, ground forces and if possible in-system starship presence is destroyed in a series of ambushes.

Fortified planets – by definition equipped with planetary shields – are used to slow down enemy fleet, and as bases to resupply and repair starships. This makes them too valuable and too dangerous to ignore. An industrial world can, if left untouched, shift balance of power by producing starships ready to deploy into enemy’s rear. This plays against nomadic and mobility-based forces, forcing them to besiege well-defended strongholds. Enemy mobility can also be reduced by placing interceptor forces at hyperspace lanes/highways, forcing the enemy to either fight through them or else accept the penalty of reduced movement speed. Since Laigin Empire is in area with comparatively high star density, hyperspace highways are narrow and far between, significantly limiting Asquilahs’ offensive options. Aside for fortified planets, the Empire maintains a number of secret naval bases and outposts – generally in close orbits around highly active stars which help mask them from enemy sensors. These are used for resupply, maintenance and all other fleet’s logistical needs so as to ensure continued operation against superior enemy forces, effecting a “fleet in being”.

Mobile forces discussed above are concentrated at strategically important locations, particularly near hyperspace streams/lanes – specifically near “crossroads” – and are deployed against major incursions. Pirate raids and similar minor threats are handled by local planetary forces. Importance of hyperspace lanes means that they are heavily protected by listening posts, observation posts and military outposts – which ironically results in invaders often avoiding hyperspace lanes, making them harder to locate but also much slower.

This defence is reinforced by the existence of a string of dependencies, vassal states and suzerainties. These client states act as a buffer zone, intercepting smaller invasions and providing warning of larger attacks. In turn, Laigin Empire provides them with military support and other forms of aid as required, as well as establishing trade relationships. On areas of border where client states are present, same system of defense is used as outlined in previous paragraphs, but with respect to client’s border as opposed to imperial territorial border – albeit fleets are still stationed within the Empire itself. Exact specifics are however dependant on agreements and may be subject to change. Where such buffer states are not present, attempts are made to establish diplomatic relations to whatever entities are present and possibly establish them as allies – be it states, corporations or even smuggling organizations. If alliances cannot be established, various factions are played against each other.

Enemies are varied – pirates, slavers, nomadic tribes, tribal federations and formalized countries. Of those, tribal federations are particularly dangerous, especially when ideologically or religiously motivated, but most of them break apart quickly under strain of internal politics or due to military failures. Even so, they are capable of causing massive damage if allowed to roam unchecked. Tribes are dealth with by signing mutual defense treaties and giving subsidies, while any tribal invasions are punished by punitive expeditions where possible. Enemy commanders may be bribed. Anyone negotiating with enemies or assisting them is dealt with swiftly and decisively, as much as possible.

While pirates are a danger, privateers as well as other mercenaries may be contracted by planetary or provincial governors to bolster defences in times of need. This is also done by the central military as outlaws often know tricks and hyperspace shortcuts that professional military may be unaware of.

On ground as well, first line of defense are patrols and listening/observation posts. Any likely landing sites and choke points are covered by artillery and machine guns. Various obstacles are employed, from minefields to barbed wire and stakes. About a third of the force is kept as a mobile reserve to reinforce the defensive line and counter any breakthroughs. For any ground unit, digging defensive works is the first thing to be done after a stop call has been made. For brief stops, only shallow pits and trenches are dug out; the longer the stay, the more elaborate its defences. On hilly terrain, larger units will make two defensive lines, one on front slope and another on reverse slope.


In both aspects of warfare, intelligence gathering is crucial. Intelligence gathering is divided into strategic and tactical. Strategic intelligence includes the information on enemy culture, mentality, doctrine, political structure, economic structure, etc. It is used to inform long-term decision-making. Tactical intelligence includes information on current force structure, disposition etc., and is crucial for winning battles. Diplomatic contacts, from other states to nomadic peoples, are a crucial source of information. Other sources of information are sensory and listening posts, scouting ships and unmanned probes, as well as various contacts and unofficial channels (mercenaries, privateers, pirates, criminal underground…). Spies, patrols, reconnaissance and probing attacks are all used for intelligence gathering purposes.

When making strategic decisions, Laigin Empire has inbuilt 10th man rule: if nine people all look at the same information and arrive at the same conclusion, it is a duty of 10th man to disagree. The 10th man has to find, compile and present all evidence, as well as possible arguments, that prove the remaining nine wrong, no matter how improbable or impossible his arguments seem. He must never stop until all possible avenues have been checked. Preparations are then made for worst case scenario. This way, group-think and conformity – so common in social animals – are avoided. In more complex situations, whole groups may be given the “tenth man” role. All Military Intelligence organizations have Control Units whose entire purpose is precisely that: producing range of explanations and assessments for events which avoid relying on a single concept. They actively criticize products coming from analysis and production divisions and write opinion papers contrary to these departments’ assessments. These memos go directly to Director of Military Intelligence and all other major decision makers. They also write and distribute papers examining the possibility of a sudden and negative change in security environment (including political, economic etc. spheres).


As noted before, diplomacy is absolutely crucial. Diplomatic contacts are maintained with all states – friends, neutrals and enemies – whenever possible. Regular contact is considered a basis for successful negotiations, and diplomatic contact is maintained even during the war – when guns speak, diplomats must shout. This also pertains to nomadic peoples. Problem with nomads is that, due to geographical distance and lack of communications infrastructure, regular contact is hard to impossible. Further, they tend to be decentralized, meaning that negotiations with one group do not affect relations with any other group. This is not true only if a powerful leader manages to unite various groups, but aside from presenting a major threat, such alliances are short-lived.

The Bureau of Foreign Relations studies the weaknesses, strengths and personalities of all neighbouring states, cultures, peoples and leaders. It also keeps tabs on centres of power and influential individuals and families, including possible ways of influencing them. Consequently, tools and approaches such as psychological analysis are highly important. As with military intelligence, these are used to inform long-term decision-making.

Normally, diplomacy is used to maintain balance of power. Much like other empires, Laigin Empire may incite attacks on a neighbour if said neighbour starts growing too powerful. Other than Asquilah Empire, most empires do not wage wars of conquest, but rather for control over trade routes, for influence and to maintain balance of power. This makes wars frequent but limited in scope, as the goal of the war never is outright destruction of the enemy, but rather “merely” achieving favourable position and maintaining balance of power. Two empires that had waged a war decades, years or even just days before, may help each other against a more powerful third party. The “resource” fought over in such wars is oftentimes nothing physical – not even trade routes – but rather political and diplomatic influence in an area.

Against new or powerful enemies, diplomacy and negotiations will be used to gather intelligence, buy time to optimize strategies, and to break down enemy’s own operational tempo with frequent truces and negotiations. Diplomacy is also used to recruit allies – including former enemies – against the new threat. Subversion is the cheapest path to victory, and nomads in particular are open to being recruited.

There is a special Office of the Barbarians which deals solely with gathering military intelligence and disseminating it to officers in the field. The Office gathers intelligence from Military Intelligence agencies as well as diplomatic corps, analyzes it and then sends results to appropriate agencies or military commanders. Unlike MI agencies, the Office is subordinated directly to the government executive.

Military itself is often used to help in civic role, with public works and similar, both at home and abroad.


Rome at War AD 293-696

Byzantium at War AD 600-1453

Heraclius and the Evolution of Byzantine Strategy

The Strategy of Heraclius


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Sci-fi starship types and doctrine

Posted by Picard578 on March 1, 2018


Space combat is very different from naval combat as in World War II. Ships and fighters alike can maneuver in three planes. Sublight maneuverability has major impact on space combat – only a spinal gun mount can penetrate the shields of a similarly-sized warship. Maneuverability is limited by ship’s size, mass and structural integrity – smaller and lighter vessels are more agile and maneuverable. Because ship’s mass has major impact on agility, ships are built as small and light as possible for the role. However, when it comes to linear sublight acceleration, small vessel having an advantage is not given.

Sensors can be either sublight or FTL. FTL sensors have massive advantage in range – measured in light years. However, they are not capable of identifying ships except through their hyperspace signature – a ship remaining at sublight velocities is basically unknown. A ship moving through hyperspace can be easily identified, but even so reliability of identification depends on range. Ships cannot be engaged while in hyperspace, but must be intercepted and brought to realspace for combat. This typically requires advantage in cruise speed, or a well timed top speed burst. Presence of hyperspace inhibitors has also given rise to “pincer” tactic, wherein a ship that has caught enemy in hyperspace inhibitor field calls in reinforcements. These ships then only calculate hyperspace vector, with no exit point, relying on inhibitor field to bring them back out into realspace, significantly reducing calculus time required.

Nature of hyperdrive also has impact on ship design. Energy requirements for entering hyperspace and maintaining any given speed depend on ship’s physical size, mass, energy output and hyperdrive rating, but relationship is not entirely linear. As a result, smaller and lighter ships are typically faster than larger ships of similar overall shape. Transport ships tend to have lower cruise speeds because of increased mass, as well as using smaller, cheaper and more economical hyperdrives optimized for low-energy cruising at low to moderate speeds – larger hyperdrives tend to be disproportionately more expensive. Warships tend to be of elongated design due to need to provide maximum coil gun length and armour while keeping overall mass as well as target profile to minimum.

Hyperdrive has two settings – cruise speed and maximum speed. Cruise speed can be maintained for as long as ship has reactor fuel, while maximum speed can be maintained for a maximum of four hours before hyperdrive overheats and forces a twenty-four hour stop. Since energy expenditure for any given speed scales with size and mass, and fuel capacity also scales with size and mass, this means that ships of different sizes have similar endurance. However, square-cube law and the increased danger of being hit in combat means that heavy ships tend to sacrifice sublight and hyperspace mobility alike in exchange for increased firepower, shielding and armour. Result is that larger and heavier ships have reduced speed, range and endurance, and in general mobility must be traded off against combat power. This has led to colloqial classification of line warships into two main types: line warships or ships of the line, whose main purpose is to engage enemy ships in combat (battle missions), and cruisers, whose main purpose is to patrol friendly territory as well as hunt for enemy merchantmen during the war (cruising missions). Even so, larger warships may still be overwhelmed by smaller ships if said ships are too big to be affected by point defenses – that is, bigger than a fighter. As a result, they always operate with escorts, especially close to planetary bodies which may prevent engagement at maximum range.

Commercial traffic is extensive – a single industrial planet may be using resources from not only its own system, but also a dozen systems surrounding it, depending on rarity of specific materials – especially those required for high technology applications such as hyperdrive. This traffic naturally gives opportunities to pirates. Partly for protection, partly for efficiency, partly to avoid gravitational effects and anomalies which may affect speed and partly to escape (hyper)space monsters, much of commercial traffic is concentrated along well-travelled lanes.



Small craft can be divided into three basic types: air superiority (F), ship attack (B) and ground attack (A). These classifications can be further subdivided into types as described below.


Torpedo Bombers (TB)

Torpedoes are dangerous, but only at close to point blank range. At longer ranges, they get easily shot down by shipboard point defences, and even at close range large volume of fire is needed to get past the PDS. As a result, torpedoes are normally carried exclusively by light ships, such as destroyers, frigates and corvettes, which are light enough to avoid capital ship’s main gun while still large enough not to be bothered by extensive point defense systems. If close-range combat is deemed unavoidable, external torpedo launchers may be fitted to cruisers and battleships.

Torpedoes are also carried by bombers from carrier’s air wing. On its own, however, carrier’s wing would stand no chance against a battleship or a cruiser group – and even a lone light cruiser would cause massive casualties in a fleet carrer’s wing, or completely wipe out light carrier’s wing in most conditions. What is more, carrier’s fighter wing has no way of preventing enemy ships from escaping. While carriers do have hyperspace inhibitor onboard, a large fleet carrer would get gutted by a battleship even from the outside limit of inhibitor’s range, and a cruiser might easily either close the range or escape before it is destroyed. Light carriers’ hyperspace inhibitors are similarly range-disadvantaged compared to cruiser’s main gun.

As a result, torpedo bombers are used only in major fleet engagements. They engage after the light ships had already closed the range with enemy fleet, using confusion, electronic jamming and debris ever present in battle to mask their approach. Debris present significantly reduces ability of ships to detect bombers, and even if bombers are detected it can still significantly hamper the effectiveness of point defense systems by masking their fields of fire. These conditions allow bombers the opportunity for an effective attack. Even so, heavy casualties are to be expected.


Interceptor (P)

Interceptors are designed for defending fleet from enemy attack craft. Due to conditions where bombers actually become useful, they do not need to have long-range engagement abilities. Rather, firepower and sublight maneuverability are the key. As a result, most interceptors do not carry missiles, but rather rely on guns for destroying enemy small craft. They can also carry a small number of short-range missiles.


Attack (A)

These craft are designed for close air support for ground troops. As a result, they tend to have a gun and heavy armour, as well as ground attack munitions. Newer models are also shielded, protecting them from airburst weapons such as proximity shells and proximity-fuzed SAMs. Only direct hits by kinetic and HEAT rounds presend serious threat to such aircraft.




Battleship (BB)

Battleships are the heaviest, largest and most powerful warships in service. They are designed to destroy enemy warships and planetary defences. To do so, they focus on firepower and protection at the expense of mobility. Battleships rarely operate alone. Any mission where battleship is present will also see its screen of escorts come along with it to provide scouting, reconnaissance and protection against harrassing attacks. Typical battleship is 800 or more meters in length. Typical cruise speed is 10 light years per hour for old battleships and up to 15 light years per hour for new battleships. As M51 galaxy is 60.000 light years in diameter, fast battleship needs 4.000 hours or 167 days (5,6 months) to go from one side of the galaxy to another (Earth units).

Battleships are used as command ships for battle groups, fleets, large planetary assaults and landings.


Battlecruiser (BC)

Battlecruiser is a battleship intended for cruising missions. Due to their expense and relative lack of need for so powerful convoy raiders, battlecruisers tend to be few in number compared to battleships. Defining characteristics of battlecruiser are heavy firepower, high cruise and top speeds, high sublight maneuverability for a ship its size, relatively weak shields and armour of a light cruiser. This allows them advantage in maximum engagement range even against battleships. However, since even battlecruiser’s hyperspace inhibitor field has much shorter range than effective range of a battleship’s gun, allowing battleship to execute a quick hyperspace jump to engage, attack against a battleship of same generation is typically suicide. Where range advantage truly comes to bear is convoy interdiction: battleships are too valuable to regularly escort convoys, meaning that a battlecruiser can destroy it with impunity. If a battleship is present, battlecruiser’s higher speed typically allows it to safely retreat – although there is always a risk, no matter how small, that battleship, if properly positioned, will destroy battlecruiser before latter manages to retreat into hyperspace. Battlecruiser is 800 or more meters in length. Typical cruise speed is 15 light years per hour for old battlecruisers and 23 light years per hour for new battlecruisers.


Fleet Carrier (CV, CVL)

Fleet carriers are large, typically battleship-sized ships whose main purpose is carrying and operating aircraft. They have to have cruise and top speeds adequate for operations with the battle fleet. Typical carrier has a flight deck and several hangar decks. Although designs with more than one flight deck are not unknown, need to provide safe landing for fighters means that flight deck is typically taller than hangar deck, and thus only one is normally used. Further, flight deck ports at front and sides of the ship are a major vulnerability in a battle, and are so kept at minimum.

Fleet carriers carry various types of small craft for fleet combat and planetary assault alike. They are typically only used in planetary assaults, since in other circumstances enemy has little incentive to close to point-blank range where carrier’s fighters start being useful in ship-to-ship combat. Carriers can also provide sublight scouting for the fleet – while normally the job of frigates, fighters can better cover all various approaches in environments where sensory image is blocked and broken up, such as asteroid fields and dust clouds, some of which may block long-range sensors and limit the range of shorter-ranged ones. Lastly, they provide close air support and air cover for ground troops until such time that planetside air bases can be established. Fleet carriers are 800 or more meters in length, and have battleship-strength shielding as well as heavy armour, giving them same FTL speeds as battleships.

When needed, light carriers may also be deployed. They are less armoured and shielded than fleet carriers, as well as having reduced strike craft complement, but have improved sublight maneuverability and acceleration as well as higher cruise speed and endurance. As a result, light carriers may be deployed with cruiser groups on raids. They are between 400 and 800 meters in length.


Cruiser (CC, CL)

Cruisers are warships intended for cruising and patrol missions. They are a balance between speed – enabling them to catch enemy ships they can destroy and run away from stronger vessels, endurance – ability to stay on patrol for extended periods of time without resupply, and power – enabling them to stay in patrol area and drive away enemy raiders. Cruisers can operate independently, hunting for enemy convoys and merchant ships, or as a part of the fleet in which case they scout ahead, shadowing and reporting enemy warships. They are typically the largest warships carrying torpedoes.

Heavy cruisers are expected to provide escort for the battle fleet and screen for capital ships, as well as counter attacks by enemy cruisers and smaller vessels. As a result, they exchange cruise speed and endurance for increased firepower and protection. This, incidentally, makes heavy cruiser a ship of the line and not an actual cruiser. Heavy cruisers are 400 to 800 meters in length, but typical length is 600 to 800 meters.

Light cruisers are cruisers in the full sense of the word, focusing on performance in cruising missions. They thus sacrifice firepower and protection in exchange for cruise speed and endurance. They are typically both lighter and smaller than heavy cruisers, but some can be as large as largest of heavy cruisers. These are often informally called “large light cruisers”, a nickname that is sometimes used for battlecruisers as well. Numenorean navy, due to its emphasis on supply interdiction – particularly along hyperspace lanes – has very high number of light cruisers. During peacetime light cruisers serve in pirate supression and even scientific exploration roles. Light cruisers are 400 to 800 meters in length, but are typically between 600 and 700 meters.


Destroyer (DD)

Destroyers are smaller warships intended for escorting larger ships. They thus have reduced provisions for independent operations compared to what cruisers and battlecruisers have, and operate either with battle fleets or destroyer depot ships. They have a spinal gun as well as torpedo launchers. They also sometimes have mine laying and mine sweeping equipment, though this is uncommon due to low utility of mines in expanses of space. Main purpose of destroyers is to carry out torpedo attacks against enemy ships, and protect larger ships from similar torpedo attacks from other destroyers and torpedo boats. Consequently, destroyers often have point defense suite larger than what would be expected of ships that size. They are 200 to 400 meters in length.


Frigate (FF)

Frigates are destroyer-sized warships intended for long-range missions. They are basically sub-sized light cruisers, operaing in cruising role in situations and conditions when cruisers are too valuable, and also providing escort for light cruisers – much like destroyers escort battleships and heavy cruisers. Frigates are used as primary fleet scouts, commerce raiders and patrol ships. During peacetime they serve in policing and pirate interdiction roles. Frigates are 200 to 400 meters in length.



Corvettes are small, cheap ships. Their main roles are system patrol and fleet support, but are also used for convoy escort and show-the-flag missions. They are typically 100 to 200 meters in length. Unlike sloop however, they can be and are deployed with main battle fleet, providing support for larger warships.


Torpedo Boat (PBT)

Torpedo boats are small ships whose main armament are torpedoes. Their size and shielding make them far less vulnerable to enemy warships’ point defense systems compared to bombers, making them ideal for carrying out torpedo attacks against enemy ships. Much like destroyers, they have limited capacity for independent operations, making heavy use of support ships such as destroyer and torpedo boat tenders / depot ships. Normal size is between 50 and 60 meters, but some can reach sizes close to that of a corvette.



Escort ships can be divided into two main types: purpose-built warships, and modified civilian ships. In both cases however they are defined by their comparatively limited endurance, slow cruise speed and lighter armament compared to dedicated warships. These ships are only expected to escort transport ships between two friendly ports; fleet train is protected by dedicated warships due to need to actually keep up with the fleet. As a result, escort ships mostly expect to deal with pirates, and possibly enemy light units during the war – if heavy raiders are expected, important convoys will be escorted by full-fledged warships while less important ones will scatter. Escort ships neither have nor require provisions for long independent operations carried by line warships, and are typically built to commercial standards to increase production.


Escort carrier

Escort carriers are light carriers specialized in convoy escort. Unlike light fleet carriers, they have no requirement for high cruise speed or large fighter complement, making them much cheaper. Additional factor reducing the price is that they are typically built in commercial shipyards and to commercial standards. Their main purpose is defending against small one-man craft and modified civilian ships that most pirates use – fighters carried by an escort carrier would not be able to destroy any decently-sized warship on their own. Escort carriers may also carry additional provisions for smaller escort warships – destroyers and sloops.


Escort destroyer

Escort destroyers are destroyers specifically built for convoy escort. They are thus much slower in FTL than fleet destroyers, and are weaker in shielding, armour and firepower. They however have much better endurance, on par with frigates, and typically better maneuverability as well.



Sloop is a slower, less maneuverable small ship intended for escort. They are typically corvette or frigate sized, and in practice term „sloop“ or „sloop of war“ encompasses all escort ships smaller in size than escort destroyer.


Armed merchant cruiser

Armed merchant cruiser is a merchant ship comandeered by the Navy and equipped with weapons and shields rated above what merchant ships are normally allowed to carry. While typical merchant ship is not allowed to mount mass accelerators greater than 360 meters in length (frigate-sized), armed merchant cruisers may mount mass accelerators up to size of heavy cruiser guns. As a consequence, they are considered warships. They are intended for convoy escort and protection and thus have low hyperspace cruise speed. Some powers utilize modified merchant cruisers for merchant raiding. These are then known as auxiliary cruisers, and are provided with authorization („letter of marque“), making sure that crews will not be executed as pirates upon capture.




Logistics depot ship

Logistics depot ship is the centerpiece of Numenorean logistics system. Over two kilometers long, it combines the functions of a transport, cargo ship, mothership, maintenance and production center, and drop-off point. Onboard forge is capable of producing most parts that fleet needs (even heavy machinery parts and hull armour plates), as well as many supplies for ground forces. It also carries resource collectors, and is thus capable of mining asteroids, moons and planets for raw resources to produce necessary parts. If necessary, it can also distill water from comets. Due to its very slow speed and vulnerability to attack, it is typically left behind the lines with an escort, while transport ships carry supplies to the combat zone.


Destroyer depot ship

This ship is basically a smaller and faster logistics depot ship intended for supporting destroyers, frigates and torpedo boats in the area of operations. It provides maintenance support as well as crew relaxation facilities. They also carry specialized munitions required by smaller ships such as torpedoes. Depot ships also have foundry and forge, albeit sized for small ship parts instead of full-sized ones carried by logistics depot ships. As a result, they can accompany groups of light ships when same are operating behind the enemy lines for extended periods of time, thus removing need for a mass of specialized support ships that would unnecessarily increase group’s hyperspace signature.



Tanker is ship designed to carry liquids – fuel, machinery oil, water etc. They are typically fitted with heating systems to heat heavy oils and allow them to flow, as well as with steam smothering systems. Unlike generalist cargo ships, they have systems to allow deep-space replenishment of ships.


Passenger liner

Passenger liners are fast ships intended to transport people between destinations. Due to long travel times however, they are still fairly comfortable, though exact conditions depend on class. During the war, they are essential to quickly transporting large numbers of troops needed around the galaxy. Even small liners can transport upwards of 10.000 troops, albeit numbers are typically lower – down to 2.500 – on longer trips. Larger liners can carry up to 270.000 troops, which may go down to 65.000 on longer trips.

Some passenger liners are used as accommodation ships, receiving personnel from destroyed or heavily damaged ships. Accommodation ships are also used as barracks ships at advanced bases. Hospital ships are passenger liners modified to provide treatment facilities for soldiers and sailors in war zones. These are fully equipped hospitals capable of treating wide variety of injuries and ailments, and are also designed to provide logistical support to frontline medical teams and field hospitals.


General cargo vessel

These vessels have their own cargo-handling systems – lifts, booms and pulleys – and thus do not require shore facilities. Cruise speeds vary from 5 to 15 light years per hour. Cargo is typically carried in containers. As such, they have replaced bulk carriers entirely. Military-specification GCVs come in length of 225 to 1.800 meters, with beam of 40 to 325 meters, and height of 20 to 120 meters. Specified sizes are 225x40x20, 450x80x40, 900x160x80, 1350x200x100 and 1800x320x160 meters. Typical cargo loads for sizes are 30.000, 240.000, 1.920.000, 6.480.000 and 15.360.000 tons. Main purpose of GCVs is transferring materials from depot ships to fleet resupply points.


Heavy lift ship

Heavy lift ships are designed to recover and carry into hyperspace disabled ships. As such, they are typically built with expectation to handle battleships and fleet carriers. They carry disabled ships within semi-enclosed docking facility, which in some designs can be completely closed. Some larger heavy lift ships are also capable of carrying out repairs, serving as mobile space docks.


Orbital transport

Orbital transport is intended to transport cargo and personnel from orbiting ships to ground. Small orbital transports have length of 80 meters and can carry 1.200 passengers or 960.000 kg of cargo. Medium orbital transports have length of 120 meters, and can carry 2.500 passengers or 2.000.000 kg of cargo. Large orbital transports are 300 meters long, with capacity of 30.000 passengers or 24.000.000 kg of cargo.


Landing ship

Landing ship is a ship equipped with a dock and hangar bay designed to carry landing craft. Unlike aircraft carriers, they require no specialized maintenance facilities and are not expected to be anywhere near potential dangers. Consequently, they have large hangar bays capable of quickly launching large numbers of landing craft much more efficiently than an aircraft carrier would have been able to do, while still being cheaper and easier to produce than a carrier. They are used for landing operations and relief efforts.


Landing craft

Landing craft is a small type of vessel designed to quickly transport troops and supplies from ship to planet. As a result they have no FTL drive and are equipped with a bow ramp for quick embarkation, unlike orbital transports which cannot embark troops or cargo quickly and typically require docking facilities. Small infantry landing craft can carry only a single platoon. Larger infantry landing craft can carry a company of infantry, and are used to deploy support troops and equipment after beachhead had been established. Specialized vehicle landing craft are also used. Some landing craft are modified with guns, bombs and missiles to provide fire support before and during landing, as well as point defense against enemy artillery, missiles and aircraft.

Large landing craft are sometimes modified to serve as planetside barracks and command posts. Others are modified for various other Army uses, such as distilling ships or field hospitals.


Amphibious command ship

Amphibious command ship is a ship assigned to command large amphibious invasions, thus freeing capital ships to command fleets and battle groups. They have advanced communications equipment and extensive combat information spaces to be used by amphibious and landing forces commander. Such ships are typically converted passenger liners or landing ships instead of a specialist type.


General stores issue ship

These ships sail into rear areas and distribute general stores (canned goods etc.) to ships and stations. Once on station, they are resupplied by general cargo ships. They carry a heavy shuttle complement, and are used as resupply points for operations that are not large or important enough to warrant deployment of a logistics depot ship.


Combat support ship

Combat support / stores ships stow supplies and other goods for naval purposes, such as frozen, chilled and dry provisions, as well as ammunition, propulsion and aviation fuel, technical spares, general stores, fleet freight and personnel. They resupply from logistics depot ship or other supply ships before carrying supplies to the fleet. These ships are high-speed vessels designed for operations with the combat fleet. They are also equipped with more extensive medical and dental facilities than smaller ships can provide.


Repair ship

Repair ships are specialized for repairing damaged ships and equipment. Unlike destroyer depot ships they can service capital ships as well, but unlike logistics depot ships they can operate close to the fleet instead of staying at forward operating base. They are capable of repairing significant machinery failures and battle damage. Like depot ships, repair ship carries repair units, but in greater numbers and has greater selection of specialized repair units.


Hydroponics ship

Hydroponics ships are designed to provide fresh food and plants to help colonization and terraforming projects. Military hydroponics ships, also called botanical cruisers, are sometimes utilized to provide steady supply of fresh fruit and vegetables on long-term fleet deployments. Hydroponics ship can also include aquaponics system. In this system, excretements from fish are used to produce the nitrates used for plant growth. This helps keep the water clean for fish, as well as solving the issue of plant nutrition.



These ships are used by governmental structures other than military. As a result, they tend to be unarmed or lightly armed, and typically unarmoured with only shields for defense.



Cutters are small, short-ranged ships with weak FTL drive but excellent sublight acceleration and maneuverability. They are used for intra-system law enforcement. These ships are typically corvette-sized, but lack warship’s armour and powerful FTL drive. If needed, they can be used for system defense.



These ships are not used by military itself, but are used as classification for various types of ships used by mercenaries, privateers and pirates. Most of them are modified civilian ships. Sometimes these vessels are also used by PMCs to provide security for merchant ships. Privateers are given letter of marque which autorizes them to attack and capture or destroy enemy merchant ships, for which they are then given a bounty. In contrast, pirates attack any and all merchant ships and do not limit themselves by national boundaries or wartime.



Brigantines are light civilian transports, typically frigate-sized, modified with light weapons. As a result, they are fast and maneuverable for a ship of such size and type, but utterly incapable of dealing with anything more resilient than a torpedo boat or, at most, a corvette.



Chebecs are fast civilian ships, either fast transports or cruise liners, modified with coil guns, missile launchers, or both. As a result, they are fairy fast in both FTL and STL conditions, able to overtake most merchant ships. Depending on exact specifications, they may also be able to outfight some smaller escort ships, but they typically avoid any contact with naval vessels. These ships are not used only by privateers and such, but also by smugglers.



Galleons are large civilian transports modified with additional weapons. They are generally slow, but pirate types are typically modified for greater endurance. Bad maneuverability means that warships can generally easily outmaneuver them.



Mercenaries: this classification can be further divided by way of operations. Mercenaries proper operate as individuals or in small groups for pay.

Privateers: privateers are mercenaries which are hired by the state in time of war.

Pirates: pirates are individuals and groups which prey on merchant traffic for their own count. They are often, but not always, former privateers.



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Sci-Fi Military Proposal Part 1: Doctrine

Posted by Picard578 on December 2, 2017

Note: in keeping with Tolkien’s influences for Numenor and Gondor, I based most characteristics predominantly on those of 18th-19th century British as well as medieval Byzantine empires, but adjusting it for modern technology. For the latter I used two books about Byzantine Empire, particularly the book of Edward Luttak. I suggest everyone to read those books unless they already haven’t – Byzantine military art and grand strategy are in many aspects superior to most if not all modern countries, and if it weren’t for the Fourth Crusade, it is impossible to say for how long it would have survived – far longer than it historically did is for certain. It did indeed earn its nickname of “The Empire that would not die”, and between Roman Kingdom, Republic, and two eras of the Empire (the Roman and Byzantine era), it lasted for 2.200 years despite several massive disasters. Interesting fact I had noticed is that, while Republic and Principate-era Roman Empire used unit basis of 6 to 10 (10 men in decuria, 100 men in centuria, 600 in cohort, 6.000 in legion, later to be changed to 8, 80, 480 and 4.800), Byzantine-era military apparently shifted to a base-3 organizational system. I believe the reason for this to be the shift from attrition „meat grinder“ tactics of the Republic and Principate to maneuver tactics of the Byzantium. In fact, it seems that Dominate army might have started the shift to maneuver organization, reducing number of cohorts in a legion – and even if that was not actually the case administratively, fact remains that portions of legions (vexilliones) were often used in place of whole legions, thus de facto achieving the same effect. Late Roman legion of Dominate period thus often had 1.000 to 3.000 men.

So questions I want to ask is:
1) how effective would the approaches outlined be for an actual sci-fi empire (say, in Homeworld 2 or Mass Effect universe)?
2) how effective would they be for a modern First World country (disregarding obvious sci-fi elements)?
3) how would outlined military perform in conventional warfare, and how in insurgent warfare?

Keep in mind, despite the influences this is still intended to be sci-fi interstellar military, and not an actual medieval military.

The books mentioned in the first paragraph are Edward Luttwak – The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire and John Haldon – Essential Histories – Byzantium at War Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in doctrine, proposals, sci-fi conceptual | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

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