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Old July 8 2013, 09:31 PM   #151
Praetor
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

zDarby wrote: View Post
I tend to follow the speculation that "warp drive" is the thing that makes the ship go FTL, the "warp core" is the thing that creates "warp power" used by the "warp drive" and "Matter/Antimatter" is the fuel "burned" to create "warp power" in Federation starships. And the reason the Federation uses M/AM is that when matter and antimatter annihilate, 100% of the fuel's mass is converted to energy, which is then available to be turned into "warp power".

Furthermore, I tend to follow the speculation that "impulse" is the newtonian rocket used to travel STL and "impulse power" is where the the exhaust gasses get their high exit velocity. In the Federation this comes from fusion --at least in part.

It seems perfectly plausible that one could turn on a "warp drive" using "impulse power". With the above speculations, Kirk could have powered his warp drive in "Where No Man Gone Before" with fusion power to travel to Delta Vega from the galaxy's edge. And of course, his difficulty with this would be that the amount of mass released as energy in even the best fusion-fuel-cycle is less than 1%. And most of the speculations I've read say the Federation uses a deuterium-deuterium fuel cycle that translates only 0.0973% of the fuel-mass to energy.

That would be an enormous downgrade in available power for the Enterprise, easily making it impossible for her make it home in WNMHGB without dilithium.....I mean, a power source that converts a thousand times less fuel-mass into energy is going to need a thousand times more fuel-mass to power the same warp drive to the same warp factor; conversely, you'll get one thousandth the power if you pump the same fuel-mass through. Indeed, if you take the TNG Tech Manually seriously, than it takes approximately a thousand times more power to cruise at 6.0wf as it does to cruise at 2.7wf. So if you have the same fuel-mass flow rate while using a deuterium-fusion fuel cycle that gets one thousandth the mass-energy conversion as M/AM, than you'll travel at 27c rather than 320c. (TNG warp scale: apples to apples.) That's the difference between making it home and not --precisely Kirks problem in WNMHGB.

Using these same speculations --and I have no delusions they are otherwise-- and further assuming Romulan BOPs are fusion powered (though not necessarily by the above mentioned deuterium fuel cycle), the BOP in "Balance of Terror" would have had terrible constraints on her power use. Her cloaking device, warp drive and plasma weapon would all use up power --and burn through fuel-- very quickly. Add to this the extra space the weapon would take up and perhaps her fuel supply was even further constrained. Thus she would be terribly hobbled compared to a standard BOP, such as the one from "The Deadly Years". Thus a standard BOP could closely match the Enterprise in speed when the BOP of BoT could not dream of it.

Of course, if the cloaking device had worked as well as her crew expected, then the design compromises found in the BoT BOP would probably have been worth it. But it didn't, so it wasn't.

(Na na na na na na, BoT BOP!)

But that begs the question: If fusion is so inferior to M/AM as a power source, why would the Romulans use it? I think the answer comes down to infrastructure. Antimatter needs to be made. Fusion fuel can be collected. A military that relies on stealth to win doesn't want fuel-supply-trains giving away the position of vital outposts, or forcing home a long-term infiltration vessel when they could be monitoring the enemy. Fusion would allow a vessel to be permanently energy self sufficient, especially if its fuel cycle took regular hydrogen and fused it into helium or heavier elements.

(The best fuel cycle I've figured out is fusing 54 protons over 18 reaction stages into Iron54, a mass to energy conversion of 0.935%. However, eighteen stages seems a bit much and the reactions were cherry-picked for energy output, not likelihood or ease of fusion. A more likely scenario, relatively speaking, is 56 protons fused over 7 stages to Nickle56, releasing 0.879%, still a considerable amount for fusion. But for now I'll stick to fusing hydrogen to helium in 3 stages, releasing 0.712%.)

Hydrogen is everywhere and can be collected from any gas giant's atmosphere, any water world's oceans or even any rocky world's lithosphere. But far more exciting is combining the bussard ram scoop with a hydrogen fusion warp core. If you assume the interstellar medium has an average density of about 1 atom per cubic meter and that 89% of that is hydrogen --currently, not a bad estimate-- then to keep the Ent-D at warp 5 cruise, you'd need a collection field that swept up an area approximately the same as a circle with a 20km diameter. That's pretty big, but not huge. And it's certainly do-able by Trek standards. A Rom TOS BOP would probably need much less than the Ent-D...How much less? Naturally, I don't know.

But what that basically means is that a BOP would only need enough fuel to initiate 1wf, then she could turn on her ram scoop to maximum and accelerate. The interstellar medium of any particular volume would only be able to support a particular warp factor for a given scoop area; and any power plant would have a limit on the fuel mass it could intake. But the vessel's range and acceleration would not be limited by the amount of fuel carried, unlike a M/AM powered warp core.

Problem: That was directly contradicted in BoT when the Romulan commander spoke with concern that their fuel was low. ... Except for two things.

First, the BoT BOP had been going in and out of warp, firing their weapon, engaging and disengaging their cloak, and generally sucking up power like the dickens. Well, all the way to warp 7, getting over an integer warp threshold takes at least an order of magnitude more instantaneous power than cruising at that integer warp factor. So his concern might have been that they were getting so low on fuel they would have to stay at a lower warp factors while they scooped up enough fuel to jump over the next warp threshold, and thus wind up staying in the neutral zone too long....This seems a bit of a stretch.

Far more likely, IMHO, is that a field capable of collecting the needed gas would be a powerful beacon that would gave away their position at long distances, something they couldn't afford until they were in their own territory.

...

By the way, once you have an artificial quantum singularity and you can convert 100% of the mass you extract from the interstellar medium, your scoop diameter need not exceed 1km to support your warp flight until the warp 9 regime. (Again, assuming you use the same amount of power per cochrane as Ent-D) Once again, pretty awesome on the no-infrastructure-needed front.
I have to say, this is all rather brilliant. I've never read it posited exactly this way. Me likey.
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Old July 9 2013, 02:19 AM   #152
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

Timo wrote: View Post
ALL of the other passes were attack runs; the Klingons fired at them every time, chipping away at their defenses. Kirk was able to overcome them by playing possum and then smacking them with torpedoes when they dropped their guard.
But the thing is, the Klingons were only able to "chip away" because of the sabotage and the subsequent playing possum ruse. We got no evidence that this would have been possible against a non-sabotaged ship.
Exactly. If the the Klingon ship wasn't afraid of the Enterprise she would've went in guns blazing like in the beginning of "Errand of Mercy". The attack-and-run passes were testing the waters to see if the Enterprise was indeed sabotaged or not.

Timo wrote: View Post
That a small BoP challenges Kirk on (at least) two occasions (as the "Errand of Mercy" teaser is a likely third case) nevertheless is probably more an indication of such a ship being more expendable than a battle cruiser than of such a ship having better odds.
The destroyed Klingon ship in "Errand of Mercy" wasn't described so it could just as well have been a battlecruiser. Perhaps the Klingons learned first hand that their battlecruisers were not a match for the Enterprise in this episode?

As to the Klingon BOPs, if they all had the same mindset of Klaa then the thought of a surprise attack winning over a superior enemy and the prestige it brings probably has some influence over why they're willing to sneak up and challenge the Enterprise. (It also helps that the Enterprise can't shoot back at it like in TUC.)

Thinking about the Romulan Ambassador in TUC - could it have something to do with the "improved" relations at the end of TFF? Kirk did rescue the Romulan Ambassador. That could've lead to a more "friendlier"/"manipulative" Romulan Empire having access to the Federation's diplomats.
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Old July 9 2013, 05:12 AM   #153
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

@Crazy Eddie: I would like to both thank you and apologize.

First off, I am sorry that my mind is so incredibly closed that I will very likely never come to see the early Romulan Empire from your POV. This is not for lack of logic on your part but an abundance of invested time on the opposing view on my part.

However, I would very much like to thank you and generally show my appreciation for showing me that the one-system, STL view point is, indeed, valid. Only here, through your explanations have I understood this fact. By no means am I putting down anyone else who has previously expressed this point of view, only that I have never come across a discussion with an individual who was patient enough to express it so completely. Thank you.

I am not Trekkie enough to argue the point, so I will leave that to my betters who are. Please do not take any offense if I continue to post to this thread, ignoring sound arguments on the matter by yourself and your like-minded peers. It will not be because I view them with distain, for, indeed I am very likely to follow them avidly, even while I disagree with them silently... For, you see, I am not convinced yours is the superior POV, even while I admit neither is mine.

Thus let it be understood I will, until further notice, assume the BOP is a warp capable part of a multi-system, fusion powered Romulan Empire. This is not because I assume this is the best interpretation (anymore) but because I can not deny the other interpretation also works. Which is a long way of saying it's my *preference* to start with this assumption.

-------

@Praetor: Thank you. It is my intention to post more along these lines now that I've given up on prove my above preferences and decided to just declare it.

For example, in the past few months I've gathered a better understanding of the anti-xeno effect, a quantum process that could, theoretically, produce all sorts of usefully products and processes just by properly measuring the material to be processed. (That was a rather bad sentence.)

For example, I recently learned that Nickle56 --the exhaust of my favored fusion cycle for advanced Romulan fusion, as mentioned above-- has a half life of only a few days, when it decays to Cobalt56 via electron capture. By measuring such a nucleus in the right way you could --again, theoretically-- force it to decay much more rapidly, in a matter of minutes or seconds, adding more energy to the final tally. If one then used the same technique to force the Cobalt to beta-decay into Iron56, you will have ended by converting 0.9+% of the mass to energy! (I'll calculate more accurate numbers later.)

But the anti-xeno process lends itself to an exciting possibility for the Federation: more efficient use of the ram scoop. Only a very small portion of the hydrogen in the interstellar medium is deuterium, greatly reducing the usefulness of the scoops for the deuterium reliant Federation. But, using the anti-xeno effect, it might be possible to force half the regular hydrogen collected to capture their electrons and transmute into neutrons, which will then very much want to join the unaffected hydrogen to form deuterium... Just what the impulse engines ordered! And though this process will probably take more energy than it gives off --the mass of a proton and electron is not that much different than that of a neutron-- it could potentially increase a starship's abilities to refuel itself by several hundred times!

My family is becoming annoyed with how much time I'm spending, so I must continue later.
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Old July 9 2013, 10:14 AM   #154
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

zDarby, that is some fascinating research, thank you very much for sharing!
And Crazy Eddie, thank you for opening my mind up to the concept of a "small" Romulan Star Empire (liking the title "Star Emperor" )

If I could just chip in - didn't they mention 2 different communication times in different TOS episodes? In BOT it was several hours, but later (I forget which episode) it was 3 weeks! Is this the result of a destroyed subspace relay (small empire scenario) or a much larger neutral zone?
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Old July 9 2013, 11:01 AM   #155
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

Mytran wrote: View Post
If I could just chip in - didn't they mention 2 different communication times in different TOS episodes? In BOT it was several hours, but later (I forget which episode) it was 3 weeks! Is this the result of a destroyed subspace relay (small empire scenario) or a much larger neutral zone?
You are thinking of "The Enterprise Incident" when Sub-Commander Tal replied to Kirk's threat of calling for assistance that it would take 3 weeks until a message could reach Starfleet.

Could be that the Romulan "space bubble" had extended between "Balance of Terror" and "The Enterprise Incident" (thanks to warp drive?), that the Enterprise made a call from the far side of the Romulan Empire or else.

It's also interesting that "suddenly" the Romulans are very well aware of Starfleet's personnel, but that could be information they gathered from the Klingon Empire.

I can't help but wonder what the Klingons got in return from the Romulans (probably the cloaking device, but apparently that did them no good in TMP ).

The whole concept of Earth outposts on asteroids, rather than space stations, seems to suggest - given our solar System - that the Earth outposts revolve naturally around the Romulan Star. Apparently they had no propulsion system of their own to even attempt evasion maneuvers.

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Last edited by Robert Comsol; July 9 2013 at 11:19 AM.
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Old July 9 2013, 12:43 PM   #156
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

Having asteroids orbiting a star (even as far out as the Kuiper Belt - perhaps even Oort Cloud distances) makes a lot more sense than some random rocks just hanging there in space in the perfect position.
I suppose you could attach some station keeping thrusters to them, but then why not build a space station and be done with it? Maybe the tech of a century ago wasn't up to it, maybe they like using the "almost solid iron" make-up of the rocks as protection ... but orbiting a star seems like the most maintenance free option to me.
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Old July 9 2013, 01:54 PM   #157
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

Wouldn't orbiting a star (that is on the Romulan side) also cause the asteroid outposts to cross the neutral zone periodically?
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Old July 9 2013, 02:21 PM   #158
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

I'm thinking of neutral zone as the surface of a huge sphere that surrounds the Romulan star system, ie:




Obviously there would need to be more than just 8 outposts to guard this area.
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Old July 9 2013, 02:57 PM   #159
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

Ahh. Okay now I get it. I was thinking that the neutral zone was a straight "line" wall, not a sphere zone that surrounds the Romulan Empire.

So several questions spring to mind:

1. At the smaller scale, couldn't the Romulans fire at these Starfleet outposts from their own planet? The Plasma weapon had a very long range.
2. or build a set of counter outposts on their side and wouldn't they show up on the map?
3. Where is Remus?
4. If the Romulans have been circled in for a hundred years, shouldn't Starfleet Intelligence have some good visuals on any Romulan ship design prior to the introduction of the cloaking device?
5. Wouldn't the "stars of home" look the same on the other side of the neutral zone to the Romulan Commander if the fight took place in their own star system?
6. Couldn't Starfleet then start shooting at the Romulan homeworld from their outposts as a response since they're at a close enough range.
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Old July 9 2013, 03:02 PM   #160
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

The outposts were constructed on asteroids but nothing say that the asteroids are in the same system. A series of star systems along the NZ, each with an outpost in it, for example. Which also provides an good explanation for the comet encountered if Outpost 4 was on the opposite side of its star when the BoP attacked. Passing through the inner system on the way home would allow it to encounter a comet with tail..

Why asteroids? Hanson's outpost was a mile under the surface; presumably as a deterrent for the primitive atomic weapons in use when it was established.

As for the size of Romulan space? Well, it does have to be large enough for an uncharted M-class planet, three hours from the NZ at some warp speed, to go unnoticed until some space hippies travel there.
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Old July 9 2013, 06:36 PM   #161
Timo
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

blssdwlf wrote: View Post
So several questions spring to mind:

1. At the smaller scale, couldn't the Romulans fire at these Starfleet outposts from their own planet? The Plasma weapon had a very long range.
Good point - but perhaps the ship was necessary for finding out where the outposts are in the first place. If the fortresses are part of a natural asteroid belt, they were probably built with stealth as a secondary if not a primary concern. Randomly shooting at ten thousand asteroids might be beyond the capabilities of the Romulans.

2. or build a set of counter outposts on their side and wouldn't they show up on the map?
Again part of a belt, and thus only the Romulans would know which of the asteroids are Romulan bases.

3. Where is Remus?
If we want to make "BoT" jibe with the rest of the Trek universe, we can't really keep the single-system model. But if we did, we would argue on basis of ST:NEM that the two planets are on orbits of slightly different radii - and thus only occasionally come close to each other. At other times, they are on different sides of the local star, which must be to the lower right of the "BoT" map, making Remus fall outside the map area.

(If we drop the single-system model, the question "Where is Remus" still applies, but the scale of the map might mean it's omitted - or then it's represented by that red ring around the ROMULUS dot.)

4. If the Romulans have been circled in for a hundred years, shouldn't Starfleet Intelligence have some good visuals on any Romulan ship design prior to the introduction of the cloaking device?
If the Romulans have been confined to this single star system (or actually just its inner parts) for a century, they might have abandoned spaceflight altogether. Save for their secret projects, conducted literally under wraps, that is.

5. Wouldn't the "stars of home" look the same on the other side of the neutral zone to the Romulan Commander if the fight took place in their own star system?
If spaceflight indeed is something these folks no longer do, then stars-as-seen-from-space vs. stars-as-seen-from-Romulus would be very different things to them... Not in terms of position, but of appearance.

6. Couldn't Starfleet then start shooting at the Romulan homeworld from their outposts as a response since they're at a close enough range.
Definitely. And I guess that would always have been an option even in the "big RSE" model. We see the outposts rather sparsely positioned, and no matter what the scale of this map, this very probably indicates that each outpost has weapons with enough range to close the gap between the outposts. Which gives them enough range to hit the Romulus dot, too, more or less.

Basically, they'd be doing what our heroes in the newest movie were told to do, bombard a hostile world across interstellar ranges. Which might be easier for a 22nd century outpost, with potentially vast magazines for giant long range projectiles, than for a more compact 23rd century starship!

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Old July 9 2013, 07:08 PM   #162
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

blssdwlf wrote: View Post
1. At the smaller scale, couldn't the Romulans fire at these Starfleet outposts from their own planet? The Plasma weapon had a very long range.
Actually they made a pretty big deal about the plasma weapon having a natural range limit; indeed, the Enterprise uses this to their advantage by firing at the Romulans from outside their firing range (and Stiles says "A phaser hit at this range would be the wildest stroke of luck!")

It's implied to have the ability to travel at FTL velocities, but the warp speeds shown in this episode are depicted as being (as is often the case in TOS) remarkably slow, not necessarily even FTL. As we've seen, this only ever happens deep within planetary systems well within the range of a star's gravity well.

3. Where is Remus?
Probably on the other side of the system right now.

4. If the Romulans have been circled in for a hundred years, shouldn't Starfleet Intelligence have some good visuals on any Romulan ship design prior to the introduction of the cloaking device?
Possibly, but at that range not enough to tell more than indistinct shapes and power emanations. Enough to make a rough guess, but little more.

5. Wouldn't the "stars of home" look the same on the other side of the neutral zone to the Romulan Commander if the fight took place in their own star system?
We've been assuming that the Bird of Prey's mission was to test Federation defenses by attacking those outposts with its new weapon. But we don't really know that for sure, do we? Fuel was definitely an issue at this point, but we also don't know the bird of prey's actual flight range; Hansen did, after all, mention that the Romulans had destroyed outposts Two, Three and Eight.

The first are understandable. Outpost two spotted the BoP on the way back through the neutral zone and immediately radioed its neighbors for confirmation. The Bird of Prey destroyed outpost three with a single shot, but outpost four survived long enough to get off a message to the Enterprise. But when in the hell did the Romulans hit outpost eight, and WHY? I'd guess that outpost eight was destroyed first -- they blew it up on their way OUT of the neutral zone -- and which would have prompted Starfleet to send the Enterprise to see what the hell as going on. A couple of days later, the bird of prey makes its return trip and doesn't have enough fuel to keep the cloaking device active. They got spotted WELL before outpost two's defensive perimeter and that gives the outpost enough time to call its neighbors, who are then also destroyed to preserve the mission's secrecy.

This was probably a spy mission gone horribly wrong: possibly deep-space reconnaissance of Federation worlds, but more likely, the Romulans were delivering a spy (or spies) into Federation space, disguised as Vulcans. The need for secrecy would be understandable: nobody knows the Romulans have a cloaking device, and even if they did, nobody ever suspects a Vulcan of being up to no good. Vulcans, after all, do not lie.

That, finally, would explain why the Romulan Commander in "The Enterprise Incident" seems to know so much about the Enterprise and its crew. They've been infiltrating the Federation for years already and Starfleet was none the wiser until one of their spy ships got shot down trying to cross back into the zone.

6. Couldn't Starfleet then start shooting at the Romulan homeworld from their outposts as a response since they're at a close enough range.
Not with phasers, no. They'd probably have some kind of long-range cruise missiles or something similar in the event of the outbreak of war, and Romulus would also have similar long-range weapons. But as I speculated above, destroying the outposts may not even have been the point of the mission.

Here's a thought: the Centurion says to his commander "We've seen a hundred campaigns together and still I do not understand you!" For all we know, this isn't the first time this particular commander -- or even this particular ship -- has crossed the neutral zone. It's merely the first time they've ever gotten caught.
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Old July 9 2013, 08:09 PM   #163
Timo
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

Actually they made a pretty big deal about the plasma weapon having a natural range limit; indeed, the Enterprise uses this to their advantage by firing at the Romulans from outside their firing range (and Stiles says "A phaser hit at this range would be the wildest stroke of luck!")

It's implied to have the ability to travel at FTL velocities, but the warp speeds shown in this episode are depicted as being (as is often the case in TOS) remarkably slow, not necessarily even FTL. As we've seen, this only ever happens deep within planetary systems well within the range of a star's gravity well.Actually they made a pretty big deal about the plasma weapon having a natural range limit; indeed, the Enterprise uses this to their advantage by firing at the Romulans from outside their firing range (and Stiles says "A phaser hit at this range would be the wildest stroke of luck!")

It's implied to have the ability to travel at FTL velocities, but the warp speeds shown in this episode are depicted as being (as is often the case in TOS) remarkably slow, not necessarily even FTL. As we've seen, this only ever happens deep within planetary systems well within the range of a star's gravity well.
These things sort of cancel out, though: the weapon almost matches a prolonged flight at the highest possible warp speed of the hero ship, while the journey home apparently involves much lower speeds that do not make the hero ship break a dilithium sweat. So the range Kirk covered while fleeing, in a minute or so, might well be comparable to the range the Commander covered while fleeing, in an entire episode or so, or actually even greater.

Regarding mission secrecy, do we have any reason to think the Romulans would have been able to jam the outposts' communications with Starfleet? If not, secrecy would be quite unlikely: even an optimal attack sequence would leave time for sending out not just a generic SOS but also a sensor data dump on the attacker.

In a realistic setup, that is... We probably shouldn't try and argue that the Earth outposts were as primitive and slow to respond as their manpower-intensive 1960s counterparts. Quick-responding automation should provide "dead man's switches" that make it impossible to keep surprise attacks under wraps.

"We've seen a hundred campaigns together and still I do not understand you!"
Here I'd cling to the difference between "campaigns" and "missions". Spying sorties wouldn't really qualify as the first sort; a campaign would imply more concrete tackling of opponents, or at least a more concrete opponent. Even an extensive series of spy missions against the Earth would only qualify as one campaign...

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Old July 9 2013, 10:02 PM   #164
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

Some good reading here IMO the BOP was running low on power to use its warp drive as it had destroyed several earth outposts with its new plasma weapon using the cloak and firing the weapon must have used a lot of ship power to much for romulan scientists to prodict.

Also I also think that the earth outposts were on asteroids making them very protective to the existing romulan weapons, the outposts would or possible not be seen and I would assume that the Romulans would not have intel on every outpost making some starfleet outposts undetectable to the Romulans.

I was thinking how would the BOP do against the Klingon battlecriuiser in combat would it be easily beatin or would the BOP beat it with its plasma weapon .?? I'm assuming that when the Klingons and Romulans exchanged tech the Klingons were better of can u imagine a Klingon battlercruiser with cloak plasma and Distruptor weapons more faster warp speeds and more power !!!
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Old July 9 2013, 10:38 PM   #165
Timo
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Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

In "The Deadly Years", we saw Romulans use ships of this type (or at least shape) against a starship with great success. OTOH, only one of the shots fired was depicted as a plasma bolt similar to those used in "Balance of Terror". But we might speculate that the other shots there were still the same weapon, just throttled up or down for tactically more viable form once the initial large firebolt either achieved what it was supposed to, or proved too large...

In light of this, I'd see these ships as fearsome adversaries to any ship foolish enough to loiter into weapons range. Staying out of range ought to be simple, as the launching ships themselves are slow, but once you get within optimal range, you are toast even in a fast ship - because no ship is fast enough to escape the plasma bolts.

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