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Once upon a time, there were two kingdoms at war. One of them had more starships and access to magnetic monopoles. For the purpose of this question, they could have been another exotic particle. Little railguns on drones can shoot these particles ar a speed of 3 km/s. The starships have no means to detect the monopoles. Monopoles of opposite magnetic charge attract each other and produce a lot of energy when coming in contact. (This is theoretical and not experimentally proven. Another possibility is that new monopoles might be created after the collision. I am ignoring that.) So the railguns fire a monopole with one sign, followed by another of opposite sign with a small delay but higher speed, so that it can catch up for a devastating explosion in the target. A single shot has 50% chance to destroy or disable a starship. Each drone can deliver a single shot before it has to return to the mothership. The starships can create, as they travel, wormholes restricted to a million kilometres length. These are primarily used to escape when attacked. All ships block wormholes in a range of a lightsecond, so they can't be used for attack.

Below are some numbers I obtained from Google based on existing systems and some guesswork:

  • Radar can detect drones at 5 km distance
  • Drone camera can see as far as half km
  • Plasma engines of the starships sped is 20 km/s
  • Reaction time for crew 2s,
  • Four drones per standard ship, but could be less if they have seen battle
  • Drones have no radar but can talk to starships and starfighters
  • radar has 3000 km range to detect a starship
  • Starfighters have a top speed of 26,000 km/h. They are not that good at attacking starships.

The standard weapons are high energy beams ten times less effective than monopoles, but they can kill drones with a single shot

Fleets/combat groups are made up of around twelve ships depending on how much battle they have seen. Non standard ships are less common by a factor of five. Some of them are far more expensive than standard ships.

So the types of ships:

  • Standard ships, four drones, no starfighters, can generate one hologram that fools drones half of the time.
  • Drone carrier ships, 40 drones, no starfighters
  • Starfighter carriers, carry up to sixty starfighters, max two per fleet
  • Shield ships generate plasma shields. On average twenty shots are needed to destroy such a ship. She can be used to protect other ships. You can't have more than two shielders in a given fleet due to cost.
  • Radar ships, the only ships that can detect drones, no more than two per fleet
  • Hologram ships, generate up to ten holograms of starships and use other tech to fool drones. No more than two per fleet.
  • Hospital, minesweepers, minelayers, one of each per fleet.
  • Cargo civilian ships. Have no means to defend themselves but can escape through wormholes. Around twenty in a convoy.

How do you defend a convoy, being the weaker side without access to monopoles?

My first attempt is as follows: Mines are placed around each wormhole jump point. There is one of each specialist ships in a fleet. A shielder protects the starfighters carrier. The hologram generator places holograms at the edge of the fleet. All the standard ships cluster around the radar ship.

FOOTNOTES There has been a lot of fuss in the comments. Of course, not every number is correct or valid for some definition of it. We don't even know if monopoles exist. The main idea is that we have mosquitoes, birds, and aircraft. That is in terms of detection, speed, size. We can bend the rules by introducing magical stealth. I am not doing that. Besides someone already answered so I can't edit the figures to not invalidate the answer. So there we are.

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    $\begingroup$ It's a very low speed by orbital standards, let alone cosmic. The ISS travels at 27000 km/h. Also "top speed"? This is space. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ "Little railguns on drones can shoot these particles ar a speed of 200 m/s": An ordinary mass-market pistol can shoot a bullet at twice that speed. Instead of railguns they would be better served using cheap 9 mm pistols. "Starfighters have a top speed of 6,000 km/h": So they are basically immobile. That is a very low speed by cosmic standards. And, in general, I don't fully understand the concept of a maximum speed in space. "Radar can detect drones at 5 km distance": That is a shockingly bad radar. Whoever bought it out to be shot for treason. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ I would venture that with a railgun velocity of 200 m/s and a ship velocity of 2000 m/s, any defending convoy need only turn its engines towards any detected contact, and its drones (and their particles) will never catch them. I think you need to drastically reconsider all your numbers here. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 9:12
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    $\begingroup$ do you realize that traveling at 20 km/s when your radar can see only 5 km and the crew takes 2 seconds to react is the same as drunk driving at night with lights off? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 11:44
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    $\begingroup$ It looks like you're asking us to come up with potential ideas for you. We're not a brainstorming site. Questions with many valid answers, like this one, aren't appropriate. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 12:11

1 Answer 1

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Avoid detection

Space is big

Let me reiterate the first part once more. Space it big. Really big. It is next to impossible to imagine. We can all dumb it down in many ways sowe have an understanding for sure, but these distances are so big a mere 3000km is nothing for space.

Space has many directions

Secondly, space has an incredible amount of directions. We define it as an infinite amount if directions. That means that anyone in space can go into any direction they want.

Tactics for defence

With the given restraints of 3000km detection range, unless I'm missing something, the tactics are easy. Have a wide range in your route where you can be. That way only at certain areas the detection chance is highest. Like close to a destination or starting planet. Anywhere else the amount of space is simply too big to effectively scan.

The next bit of tactics is mostly your doctrine. Do you send a cluster of tightly knit groups, reducing the chance of detection, but if detected more vulnerable. Still have the option to scatter to the wind, making it extremely difficult to take down multiple before they are out of detection range again.

Another is to just scatter from the start. More chance one is detected, but the chance is small and destruction is only a single ship. That only happens if it can't escape into the vast regions of space via wormholes in time when detected.

Personally I would send any group close to each other with one radar ship. Detect an enemy, jump away into a random direction that is at the very least outside the enemy range. Scatter if the convoy gets in a bad position. If the enemy spreads out enough to try to catch you, you can overwhelm the solitary ships.

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    $\begingroup$ There is also the option to place the escort ships at 3000km distance above, below, in front and behind the ships that need escorting. This increases the detection chance, but what the enemy detects is 1 ship. You signal the rest to evade while the escort ship either evades, lures or simply avoids in a different direction. Only the escort ships designed for combat would be engaged at worst. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan a good idea, but we can only detect with radar ships. We're limited to 2 per fleet. Would take a lot of risk not knowing you're detected. While they try to scan the fleet. Possible solution is to have one radar ship spiral around, while the other is in the convoy cluster. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe "just" 1 in front, the rest in the cluster? Its less likely the opponent will come from the rear as they would need to overtake you and more likely to spot them at the front. If you want to have 1 circulate, probably best to let the front one do it but I doubt it would be a superior option as it means less chance of detection in the other 3 quadrants. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 18:36

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