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Suppose that there are 2 interstellar empires at war with one another, both armed with FTL drives which cannot be used within a certain radius of huge gravity fields, stars, gas giants, etc. Another thing to note is that both empires use the same FTL tech, which they had both independently researched, as it was the Apex Technology or something.

So the 2 empires will be at war with one another. On their first battle against one another, they stand off against one another from millions of miles away shooting with their cannons. Suddenly, one of the ships from one side suffers a critical hit, and detonates, wiping out both fleets, turning the local planets to plasma, and solidifies the local star by fusing all the helium into lead all in a flash. The blast then rippled outwards, FTL and completely irradiates all systems in a large(25 parsecs) radius. Now, both empires now know the extreme power of the explosion when their FTL ships explode, and they decide that they don't want to fight ship against ship anymore, but they are still at odds with one another and want to fight.

So, that is a bit of the setting, now for the actual question. How would 2 interstellar empires fight in space if they are both extremely unwilling to blow each other's ships up

Notes

  • There is FTL, and is outfitted to most Cruiser and above sized ships.
  • Both empires want to fight, but they don't want to blow up each other's big ships. The ships can be attacked on small scale and boarded and neutralized that way.
  • Both empires had never actually seen the FTL drive explode like that, but quickly deduce that such an occurrence would be very common if they kept fighting like that.
  • Between the 2 empires, they probably easily lost a dozen or so systems from the first contact
  • Take note that the huge explosion is caused by huge chain reactions from the FTL drives of both fleets, and the local civilian ships as well.
  • A single lone ship detonating it's FTL drive would be still be enough to wipe out a large portion of a single star system, but it would easily also trigger any other FTL ship in the system.
  • MAD would probably not be in play, not until one empire is beaten all the way to their home world, as the detonation would have very real consequences.

HUGE NOTE: This question is more about how 2 empires would fight, not about how to weaponize the FTL drive.

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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like gross engineering incompetence if nobody knew the starships they were building could go bang like that. $\endgroup$ – user6511 Apr 13 '15 at 3:44
  • $\begingroup$ @user6511 Well, before the war, both sides were completely uncontested, and their ships never in any danger of any sort. $\endgroup$ – grimmsdottir Apr 13 '15 at 3:47
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    $\begingroup$ I think spaceships would always be in danger - due to space debris, meteors, lack of maintenance, cost-cutting mistakes, pilot-error. These are only a few dangers I can think of. $\endgroup$ – user6511 Apr 13 '15 at 3:50
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    $\begingroup$ I think the only way it comes as a surprise is if one side used a new and experimental weapons tech which then interacted badly with the FTL drives to cause the explosion. So either on its own works fine but combine the two big badda boom. The other immediately stole the same tech and you are now at the desired scenario. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Apr 13 '15 at 8:56
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    $\begingroup$ can you use this technology to create powerful bomb to wipe other empire? $\endgroup$ – user902383 Apr 13 '15 at 12:11

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Based on that chain of events, if I were supreme dictator of one of these empires, I'd be aiming to demolish their planet-side infrastructure. If they have any massive, unmovable, space-borne infrastructure... bomb the crap out of that too.

As I actively want to keep the enemy fleet's ships intact, I wouldn't engage them in any offensive capacity. Crews need food, and food comes from supply-lines. I'll attack there, and starve my enemy into oblivion.

Why?

After the first encounter, the one that resulted in the deaths of billions Of my citizens, I now have to fight two battles; one against my enemy, and one against the public outrage against my lack of foresight. It was my government that commissioned the development of the antimatter cannons, and the quark torpedoes that have been blamed for the largest loss of human life in recorded history. Whether or not this is true is irrelevant; the public thinks it's true, and the public wants vengeance.

To keep my reign as ruler, I'm now forced to use a strategy that minimises the chance of further 'incidents.' My generals and military advisors turned to complex computer simulations and history books alike. Every analysis came to the same conclusion; combat against a FTL-enabled ship, or a ship's crew was too much of a risk. If for no other reason than the deliberate detonation of an FTL-drive is a sufficient deterrent from boarding.

The official strategy; nuclear bombardment of all hostile planets.

Being The Attacker.

Cities don't move. They remain in the same location on a planet's surface. Planet's spin very predictably, and orbit very predictably. We can easily compute where a planet will be at any point in the future. Computing where a certain city is going to be isn't much harder. We're capable of this today: we plot the paths of meteors and space-junk as they enter the atmosphere.

Now, to bomb them; you don't need much of a missile. It's more like 3D bowling. All you need to do is aim well, give your missile the right nudge, and gravity will do the rest for you.

To increase your chances of not being caught, you wouldn't take the simplest shots. No, you'd aim your missiles to sling-shot around other planets and moons.

Being The Defender.

Is both easy and hard at the same time.

The process:

Look for anything moving in space, compute its path, shoot it down/nudge it away if it'll hit your planets.

The Easy Part:

The laws of physics that allow you to aim your atomic-bowling-ball-missile are the same laws that allow you to work out where missiles are coming from. This narrows down how much space you have to search in.

The Hard Part:

They call it space for a reason: there's an awful lot of it. You still have to do an astronomical(it's a pun!) amount of searching. And you have to be doing this constantly. But that's not all! Any smart adversary is going to expect you to look for missiles, and will make them as stealthy as possible. This basically involves painting them with the blackest paint of possible, and making them sub-zero temperatures.

Where do I station my fleets?

The bulk of my navy is relegated to defending against incursions, particularly bombardments attempted against me. Standing orders are as such; be on constant vigilance for rogue objects in colonised star systems. Take picket in orbit around planets on the solar system edge, where enemy ships have the greatest opportunity to attack and escape from.

The exception to the above rule applies to; the stealthiest ships, and ships with the largest (launchable) cargo space. These will be used to attack. Massive, concerted, assaults will be used to draw in defending fleets. This will open holes for attack elsewhere.

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    $\begingroup$ It's a minor nitpick, but keep in mind that if by "sub-zero temperatures" you mean "below the freezing point of water", that will still stand out like a sore thumb to even the worst of thermal scans, being about 250 K above ambient. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Apr 13 '15 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ Also keep in mind that you wouldn't necessarily need to bombard the cities. Since most people on the surface would still use conventional means of transportation to get around (think boats, cars and planes) and it is, in general more fuel efficient and quick to use ships to get around cities would be build near oceans and seas. All the attackers have to do is bombard the ocean in such a way as to create a massive ripple. Complete devastation of the global population. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Apr 13 '15 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Assuming that the missiles are relatively fast, they could be cold-soaked down to LN2 temperatures or lower, and while running discharge to an internal heat reservoir. $\endgroup$ – 2012rcampion Apr 13 '15 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ I'm struggling to understand the strategy. If my long-range attacks are being defended against, and I know that they cannot engage me ship-to-ship, why not go to point-blank distance and hit the planets. If they destroy my ship, it'll kill them anyway - the defender then has to find a way to disable my ship without destroying it, which is much harder than shooting down a missile. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Apr 13 '15 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling, yes, background radiation is MUCH colder than water's freezing point. It was intended more as metaphor than science. $\endgroup$ – user6511 Apr 13 '15 at 21:09
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I don't think your setup will actually result in the two sides fighting using lesser weapons, it just doesn't make sense. If the enmity between them is so great that losing multiple entire systems doesn't make them reconsider fighting, they aren't going to put on the kid gloves now. I see a couple of way this war could go.

"Strike fast. Strike hard." -Fleet Admiral William Halsey

If there is no way to track/intercept ships going FTL, just send a fleet of suicide ships to all parts of the enemy empire that aren't too close to you and boom war over.

"Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

What you have isn't an FTL drive, it is a weapon that can destroy everything within a 25 parsec radius. The trick is to position it so that as much of that 25 parsecs is within enemy territory and as little as possible is within yours. Step one is to withdraw as much of your population and infrastructure from the border areas (within 25 parsecs) as possible. How much effort you put into getting civilians out depends on what kind of an empire each side is. Step two is to use cover the frontier between the empires with a fleet of suicide ships, spaced out as far as possible while not allowing any gaps in sensor coverage to allow enemy ships through. Any attempted penetration results in the ships detonating, taking out the attacking force. Be sure you have new ships waiting a safe distance away to replace the ones lost. If the sensor range is less than 25 parsecs this will be expensive, but don't worry, it won't last long. There will be a 50 parsec wide "neutral zone" between the empires until someone makes a mistake and lets a ship through, at which point boom war over.

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock." - Will Rogers

If your empires are too small to sustain those levels of losses you need to take a more subtle approach. Your situation is similar to that of the US and USSR in the early 1950s. Both sides have the capability to destroy each other but don't have the stomach for using them. In effect, the FTL drives are the interstellar equivalent of strategic nukes, while you want tactical nukes. So you engage them in diplomacy, talking about how terrible the loss of life was, blah, blah, blah while developing a smaller, weaponized version. Once that is ready, you fly ships into their territory from all along the frontier. If they attack your ships will explode wiping out a large amount of their military (your other ships are sitting safely at home). If they don't attack, you fly to their homeworld and boom war over.

"A Strange Game. The Only Winning Move is Not to Play" -WOPR

All these outcomes will result in huge casualties and large portions of the local galactic region will be destroyed. If that isn't what you want don't have two empires with absurdly over-powered super-nukes fight.

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    $\begingroup$ "Suicide ships" sounds a bit strong... after all, why would you need pilots? Or life support? Or even a spaceship? A warhead-less FTL cruise missile would do the trick. $\endgroup$ – 2012rcampion Apr 13 '15 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ The withdraw and fire tactic seems unreasonable. Given "Take note that the huge explosion is caused by huge chain reactions from the FTL drives of both fleets, and the local civilian ships as well." It would be way too uncertain that this chain reaction could still reach your population. $\endgroup$ – agweber Apr 13 '15 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with this. My first thought on reading the question was: "Well, that's a big bomb. It'll do nicely." Basically it's just a variation on a Trojan Horse. $\endgroup$ – NotMe Apr 14 '15 at 20:37
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    $\begingroup$ Exactly. And as i expected, "total war" was not accepted as a solution. Folks around this forum seems to pretend that war is about fair play, even if in reality war is about gaining any and all unfair advantages over the other side. Whoever has bigger production capability to mass-produce FTL "suicide ships" (after first round of war destroyed some production capabilities) and military ready for decisive and ruthless action, will win. $\endgroup$ – Peter M. Apr 14 '15 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ @2012rcampion I meant that the ships will destroy themselves, not meaning to imply anything about the crew $\endgroup$ – Tom Anderson Apr 15 '15 at 8:23
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MAD would probably not be in play, not until one empire is beaten all the way to their home world, as the detonation would have very real consequences.

I fail to see how MAD would not instantly come into play; Tom Anderson's response directly leads to a MAD world as does Tim B, nogrodoth, and user6511. You have created a MAD situation where there isn't a good move as the only way to "win" would be a first strike that is so devastating that it completely wipes out all ability to counter attack (which, given FTL starships seems relatively impossible to accomplish as only a few starships need to self detonate in strategic locations to have an unacceptable counter-strike).

In the Cold War the US and Russia were still able to go at it and even fairly directly, they just needed to have proxy's set up. Jim2B's answer creates a proxy situation of sorts, as does in fact feas response which covers the very real situation that non-military competition became huge during the Cold War (and to today) between rivals, a way of determining who was 'best' without actually destroying the world, as in the Olympics and Chess, so forth; it is again another form of proxy warfare. Which shows that the form that the proxy warfare takes can be hard to predict and may be varied, such as with great shows of strength or of technological achievements as with the Space Race.

Diplomacy will certainly pick up between the two sides even if arms build up also happens, and each side will be looking at ways of gaining first strike capabilities, defending against first strike, negating defensive measures, and negotiating treaties to stop such research, and then figuring out ways around the treaties that don't lead to retaliation. For example, spreading colonies and expanding the empire would be a way to try to mitigate against a first strike, so there would probably be treaties signed limiting the number of new colonies; both sides would probably then continue to create things that are not quite colonies or that aren't technically "new" in violation of the spirit of the treaty they both signed and both would be aware that the other was doing it, until a new treaty was signed, etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ I love the idea of proxy nonmilitary competition, and that it includes chess. It should include other forms of cultural warfare modelled on the Cold War including coca cola, blue jeans and rock and roll. $\endgroup$ – Willk Nov 15 '17 at 19:20
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You might be able to force a surrender if you moved positioned your ships in range of the other side's most important planets - saying "Hey, surrender or I'll fire on all your cities, and if you shoot me, you'll kill yourself". Assume ships are programmed to self-destruct if their hull is breached, and inform the planet of the same. You might not want to tell the ship's crew though.

I'd imagine whichever side can arrange that first would most likely be able to win. Unless the loser would rather die than submit. Either side, though, would be able to do this pretty easily, as I'm not quite sure how you could possibly detect and intercept a ship moving faster than light, before it gets to your planet. If such detection were possible then it'd be a game of chess (or perhaps a closer analogy, a Chinese checkers version of American football- you win by getting yourself in the end zone). Each side trying to out-maneuver the other to position their ships in range of the opponent's most vital planets, while blocking their opponents from doing the same.

If such detection would not be possible, then the winner would be whoever mobilizes first. Or more likely, both would lose - each one with their ships positioned outside the other's planets, destroying the cities below. Maybe whichever one has the best aim then, and so destroys enough of the planet to persuade that side to yield.

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    $\begingroup$ This sounds quite like cold-war tactics. America putting nukes in Turkey, Russia putting nukes in Cuba, so that if either one fired it would mean the utter destruction of both countries. $\endgroup$ – Mike.C.Ford Apr 13 '15 at 10:02
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The Sci Fi RPG, Traveller utilized a concept that would make a lot of sense in this situation. They called the concept Battleriders. The carrier / battlerider concept uses a large mothership / carrier but they carry full sized combat warships instead of fighters.

For your use, the mothership / carrier would possess the FTL drive and do its damnedest to stay far away from battle. Heck, in your universe you could have both sides purposely leave their mothership / carrier weaponless so that the other side won't be tempted to fire upon it.

All combat is conducted by the battleriders (who do not possess FTL) far away from the mothership / carrier.

The losing side warps / jumps / scoots their mothership away, perhaps leaving any surviving battleriders behind.

  • A mothership / carrier without its battleriders would be like a giant freighter.
  • A battlerider without its mothership would be effective at system patrol/combat but would be the interstellar war equivalent of a "fixed defense".

Depending upon many of the details you decide (such as FTL engine recharge times), the concept of operations (CONOPS) might be:

  1. Carrier / mothership jumps in
  2. Battleriders undock and accelerate away
  3. Carrier / mothership takes a mini-jump into the system's Kuiper belt
  4. Carrier / mothership awaits the coded recall signal
  5. After a predetermined amount of time with no signal, carrier / mothership assumes a total loss and jumps away.

Alternatively given Solar System travel times for accelerations of under 10gs, battles will take months or in some cases years. So the carrier / mothership leaves to go do other things.

  1. Carrier / mothership jumps in
  2. Battleriders undock and accelerate away
  3. Carrier / mothership jumps to the next system on its itinerary
  4. After a predetermined amount of time, carrier / mothership returns to agreed upon destination in Kuiper belt for Battlerider pick up.

What happens when one side doesn't follow the agreed upon combat SOP?

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Unfortunately I agree with the others, the outcome you want isn't what happens.

What happens is that every ship you own is retro-fitted with auto pilots (or skeletal manned suicide crews) and charges for enemy homeworlds to kill them as fast as possible before they can come up with the same plan to use on you.

The entire enemy empire turns into a fiery ball of gas. 25 parsecs radius is an area 150 light years across. That's a pretty damn big empire turned to dust.

In the meantime you shut down all non-military traffic in your own systems to try and prevent similar chain reactions in your areas.

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Step 1:

Seed space between all my planets and all the enemies planets with small mostly inert FTL drives. One every 5 parsecs should do. Tell the enemy that you have done this. That instantly disarms the use of the ships as a weapon. The chain reaction caused by an exploding ship explodes the entire web of ftl drives, and any ship near them. (This is a high risk strategy, obviously) Station FTL drives in all major cities. This protects against long range bombardment. This is mutually assured destruction taken to the (il)logical extreme. The use of any high powered weapon becomes instantly and terrifyingly taboo.

Step 2:

Develop a pod capable of holding an armoured trooper. The pod has integrated cutting blades, but no explosives of any kind. Any enemy ship is attacked by a swarm of active, semi-active and inert pods, some empty, some filled. If a pod finds it's way to an enemy ship it scans for the presence of FTL radiation to check that it's no where near the drive section and then drills through the hull delivering the armed trooper. Obviously no one can risk using high power weapons inside an FTL ship so these troopers are armed with close combat and low power weapons.

Design invasion ships which have a detachable drive section. (In fact all ships should have a detachable drive section.) The ship jumps into orbit of the planet, scatters boarding pods and orbital assault platforms and jumps away. The boarding pods start to deal with any defending ships. Once these ships are destroyed you can begin landing troops. A first wave of troops in boarding pods/drop pods. A second wave of heavier equipment once you have cleared landing sites.

It won't be long till new orbital defenders arrive from a nearby planet, but you're safe from orbital bombardment, you can never be 100% sure of avoiding detonating a drive. The ground war begins. Blade against blade.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think that dropping pods with lightly armored soldiers onto a heavily defended planet might end more like this joke: Those who live by the sword (blade) get shot by those who don't. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Apr 14 '15 at 15:09
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Lets summaty what we know. Techonogy used to create FLT engines, can be used to create ultimate weapons, and both empires have them.

I'm not history expert, but this sounds very similar to situation between USA and Soviet Union. Both had ultimate weapons (nuclear arsenal), there were huge tension between those countries. But there were no actual war (at least not in standard way of thinking).

I believe this will be similar in your case, both empires probably will sign agreement of not using this weapon, and both sides will be avoiding direct conflict as loosing side can lunch deadly missile any time. You will have bunch of covert operations, propaganda, both empire will try to organize revolution or ignite civil wars on planets which belong to other empire.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think the problem is that A) these are aliens hard to know how they think. B) you allready were at total war. Imagine us and russia starting out cold war when the fighting allready was at full scale war. $\endgroup$ – joojaa Apr 15 '15 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @joojaa right, they are in total war, and we don't know how they think, but if they driven by survive instinct, they not use that kind of weapon if they know their opponent can do exactly same thing. And that might be huge rule changer which stops open war and change it to covert ops based war $\endgroup$ – user902383 Apr 15 '15 at 15:07
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From what you are saying, your ships are the equivalent of themonuclear-tipped ICBMs with guns and armor strapped on them, and no one would want to start using them in actual battle. I will disregard the lack of MAD in the requirements, because the first thought any sane man would have would be to turn such destructive FTL devices into untrackable strategic weapons that can devastate an enemy (Since FTL detection is not mentioned).

Because both empires would both like to survive as long as possible, I believe they will take up a stance similar to cold-war era Earth, namely using these ships are weapons of deterrence. If they have smaller neighbors, they may try to convince them to fight wars on their behalf, offering their large cruisers and capital ships as motherships that can bring a proxy empire's conventionally propelled fleets into a theater of battle, and remain on alert there just in case armageddon is required. Conventional battles can still be held, with formations of conventional warships engaging eachother with whatever weapons they have, until they can beat back enough of the other side's forces for them to retreat to the mothership and jump away. Or, to reduce the chances of a world-ending war, the motherships may only jump in for long enough to launch the conventional fleet and jump away, leaving the fleet to its own fate.

Both empires would also probably engage in FTL tracking research, or if possible, FTL interdiction, which would allow some of these fleets to be pulled into uninhabitable places, where destruction is not of much concern. The main form of war directly between the two are not going to be "hot" wars, but rather wars of espionage and diplomacy, trying to make sure that when a first-strike is needed, that they are going to get that first-strike.

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    $\begingroup$ I am not sure that a sane man would have that come to the forefront of his mind. We are ruled by the insane. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Apr 14 '15 at 15:14
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I'm going to try to stay in question parameters as much as possible.

So we operate under the assumption that MAD is not an official policy; the FTL drives in question must continue to be used; everyone has them; nobody wants them to blow up again; but each empire still feels the need to be at war.

I will assume that the FTL detonations make the planets effectively uninhabitable, if anything by destruction of any existing atmosphere. Any new operations on those planets will be done as if in a vacuum.

Even without MAD, warring nations always adopt a set of Rules of Engagement. Effective immediately, FTL jump ships would be designated off limits. In order for this to work, every single FTL warship would be disarmed as quickly as possible, in an effort to prevent the need or the desire to open fire on an FTL ship.

War is won based on the ability to take and hold an area, in this case, an area of space. As of now, there is effectively nothing to prevent an FTL ship from entering any area of space, anywhere, at any time - but they are unarmed, technically. And the non-FTL ships could take weeks to months to go anywhere in system.

We now have classical invasions to fend off. Holding planets will become the more important task for the warring nations. FTL drop ships will enter orbit and start unloading combat forces into the atmosphere; flyers will be under fire from the equivalent of anti-air defenses attempting to prevent the attacker from gaining air superiority. Ground forces will be fielded in an effort to establish staging areas and combat fixed defenses. And they will be met with whatever modern technology has to offer in the way of soldiers, sailors, and pilots.

Since the FTL ship is off limits, the invader now has a problem - being the aggressor on a new planet has the problem of bringing down an overwhelming defense response from other FTL drop ships within several light years. The defender has a similar problem - sending every drop ship he has in response to a threat runs the risk of having fallen for a diversion. For a little more perspective on this, communication lines can be jammed, false information passed, and covert operations can take place on essentially every planet that manifest in ways not unlike terrorism.

Economy and manufacturing become more important than ever - virtually every single planet now has to able to field a significant, workable defense force to increase the available time before the fleet can respond. And depending on what else is going, they may never actually respond.

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One thought i have not seen in any of the answers is removing the FTL.

You already state that the FTL has limits and cannot function around large gravity fields.

Equip your ships with gravity generators.

Empire A ships jump to system full of Empire B ships, activate there gravity generators disabling everyone's FTL then open fire.

Empire A is confident the no catastrophe will happen so can attack freely, Empire B will realizes they cant run and will stand an fight learning that they can now destroy ships safely.

After a few skirmished and a major engagement Empire B will have the gravity generators. Spies, necessity of invention, already working on it just slower, they will find a way. Otherwise Empire A decides where and when the battles occur so will always have the advantage.

A logical evolution would be to create independent gravity generators and use them a mines.

Wars always ignite arms races, Mass reducers, anti-grav plating, void shields or simply better FTL drives can be applies as your story need them each with there own restrictions.

Mass reducers can only reduce mass by 20% making them useless on anything bigger than scouts

anti-grav plating reduces standard armor making ship more combustible but without other to chain react with only harm themselves when destroyed

power requirements of void shields make them inoperable on anything below dreadnought class ships

gravity resistant FTL - electric cars exist but most of us still fill up with petrol, takes time to filter down.

essentially it removes the FTL explosion event so normal warfare can take place.

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I think the war is the least of both sides concern.

If the only mode of transport has such a drawback then potentially every single ship equipped with an FTL drive is now a huge liability. The moment news of that situation breaks out, commerce and all travel between systems in both empires will grind to a complete and total halt.

Mass panic would tear the empires apart from within. No planetary leader would willingly allow an FTL capable ship anywhere near their own planet, and likely not even close to the solar system at all.

The companies that make such ships would be torn apart by their own workers in fear. Essentially these empires would break apart into solitary systems. Hopefully the planets within each system are able to be self sufficient. The ones that aren't will die.

That one shot and the explosion which followed would be the death knell of both empires and certainly society as either know it.

So, the war would end. Not because either side gave up, but because neither would be capable of prosecuting it.

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  • $\begingroup$ would it be possible for the engineers to re-work the particular piece of technology to be safer, or is it a problem with the technique used to achieve FTL that makes it so hazardous? $\endgroup$ – user16973 Apr 14 '15 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ @user16973: Not my world idea, so who knows. Either way, the thing that holds an alliance or an empire together is commerce. Without that, the government falls apart. $\endgroup$ – NotMe Apr 15 '15 at 0:00
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The reason the FTL drive exploded is because it is a hyperspace type, except that this one has a permanent breach in space-time instead of temporary rift. if so, they can operate near planets, don,t wanna destroy. logical? This would lead to interesting strategies, the ship with FTL and generators that warps close to a star and warps out releasing catastrophic stress on the stars geomagnetic stability. interdiction would be key. I do like the idea of the mothership carrying not FTL ships.

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