So lately I’ve been re-rereading (again) some of the articles on Atomic Rockets and I was metaphorically struck by the idea of orbital combat as presented on the site. To summarize, it involves using Hohmann orbits to do “drive by” attacks on enemy forces every few hours. Obviously, this would work just fine, but I’m not sure if this would be the tactic for large ships.
Consider two fleets. Fleet A is attacking a planet and Fleet B is defending it. Fleet A has made it through the outer layers of defenses and are closing in on the world itself. My thought is that they would attempt to enter orbit on the opposite side of the planet as Fleet B, thus making it very difficult for either fleet to shoot at the other (with the notable exceptions of missiles, mines, torpedos, etc). The tactic then would be to alter orbit just enough to present a direct firing solution on the enemy by kinetics or lasers, firing your weapons, and then accelerating/decelerating to put the planet between the two of you again.
The idea is that this would make orbital warfare a constant battle of managing and adjusting your orbit to compensate for your enemy’s maneuvers. Battle would go on like this until one side grows confident enough. At which point the cat and mouse game would end and the no-holds-barred slugfest would begin.
Once the Fleets decide to fully engage, the Fleet A would match orbits with Fleet B and enter a position where all their ships have a firing solution. Now, although these ships are moving incredibly quickly, if they matched orbits with each other they should appear to be stationary, relatively speaking. Basically this half of the question is just justifying large scale Star Wars-like ship to ship battles.
The question here is pretty simple: Does this two part orbital warfare work? Of course I’d like more concrete information than just yes or no. My knowledge of orbital mechanics and the like come from me enjoying the subject and reading on the internet so a more in depth prospective on the actual math involved would be greatly appreciated. If this doesn’t work then why not and of course any further suggestions or ideas will always be appreciated!
Edit: So the comments have pointed out a few things I should probably address. My universe has a bit of handwavium in regards to shields, FTL, more efficient propulsion, high density power sources, and heat radiation. FTL doesn’t allow a ship to drop into the atmosphere of a planet or anything like that, but it does allow the ship to get to the gravity well of the planet. As for the attackers being able to bomb the planet, I had thought it would be more of an agreed upon tactic to reduce civilian casualties. Otherwise the death toll from space warfare could reach the billions relatively quickly.