Federation Law of restricting cloaking device

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Brainsucker, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    First time? Nah. "For the world is hollow that I've touched the sky" and "Patterns of Force" both feature the Enterprise using her phasers to knock out incoming missiles. It'll be interesting to see what "maximum range" might look like in Abrams Trek.
     
  2. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    I've often wondered that as well. There is technically no reason it can't be done however there seems to be a voluntary man-in-the-loop that is used that prevents this from happening automatically plus few if any captain appears willing to do this. Although IIRC, there was one or two Voyager episodes where similar tactics were used...

    This part probably is a VFX decision. But keep in mind that the movie-era Enterprise also used conformal or skin-hugging shields and some of the VFX in TOS show weapons impacting very close to the hull. We also know that shield distance is extendable but also more power intensive. Put that together and it can be explained in those large DS9 battles the tactics could have called for skin hugging shields to maximize shield power and that weapons on both sides were so powerful that they could cause hull damage even against full shields.
     
  3. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Also remarkably, it is only the Axis of Alpha ships that die in new and flamboyant ways: any ship built or enhanced by the Dominion still stays intact when fired upon, or disappears in a classic fireball. So we could very logically claim that Dominion weapons are a new thing that pierces shields with ease and causes the more exciting type of destruction, and nothing else has changed much.

    In Alpha-to-Alpha fights such as "Way of the Warrior", the lack of visible shield bubbles doesn't create obvious contradictions. It still takes an enjoyable fireworks show of four torpedoes to gut a Klingon battle cruiser, even if the powerful phaser beams of the station are the first to demonstrate the ability to kill a small BoP with one shot. (And that really is a small BoP - among the smallest in Trek history, at least in the shot where these fly in formation with a Vor'Cha.)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Conventional weapons launched by primitive cultures, yes. The Narada's weapons are implied as being fairly modern by 23rd century standards, and that makes this an interesting precedent.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    There is still something of a mismatch between the threat and the defense, in that the phasers fire very rapidly, but the missiles move somewhat more slowly than the "classic" threat of photon torpedoes. It seems to be no contest.

    Yet Robau's crew never seemed to think that firing back at the projectiles would be necessary - it was a shock that the shields did not handle the threat. So there might be no culture of active defenses in Starfleet despite the demonstrated capacity.

    And when the weapons were used, admittedly by a badly damaged ship, they proved quite unsuccessful. They were 100% successful against threats directed at a third party (shuttles in teaser, Spock in climax), though. Perhaps this sort of defense really is useful only against inferior threats, and the TOS examples and STXI aren't that different in the end?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They didn't HAVE to think about it, it was the very first thing they did when the Narada fired at them. More importantly, they WOULD have been considerably more effective if the missiles hadn't split up into a dozen small and powerful submunitions and hammered the ship like a steel rain.

    I've actually been sort of pondering two things from STXI.

    1) Could/should we re-imagine "shields" from being a skin-covering forcefield and change it into the name of Starfleet's standard CIWS system? That would certainly explain the lack of visible shield flares in the movie and the fact that Kelvin continues to fire phasers even after the engineer tells Robau their weapons are offline.

    2) Narada's torpedoes are described as "powerful and advanced" but there doesn't otherwise seem to be anything special bout them other than the clusterbomb trick. Maybe that singular innovation IS the thing that makes them powerful after all? Certainly WE'VE never seen anything like it in Trek, and Kelvin's engineer might be referring to the fact that Narada's single torpedo blew through his engine room in about a dozen different places at once where a normal torpedo only would have hit one spot and been quickly bottled up by STI fields.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Possibly so - but the Narada also had "shields" according to our heroes, and never demonstrated any sort of CIWS.

    Also, the Kelvin crew wonders if their shields were even up after Nero makes such short work of their ship in the first attack. How could they not know whether the CIWS system was up or not, when the bridge has an actual see-through window opening to the very lightshow that this CIWS system created?

    ...And their ability to go through shields as if they weren't there - an ability either related or unrelated to the submunitions trick. Certainly it could be that each warhead individually is "powerful" and "advanced" by 23rd century standards.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    But was never fired on either until the very end of the movie. Kelvin poured phaser fire into the Narada for a good twenty minutes, but we didn't get to see whether those shots landed or how much damage they did; more importantly, we don't really know to what extent the Reboot shields would be that useful against energy weapons.

    They knew. It was a rhetorical question.

    They don't seem to be, though. Visually and in terms of the damage they do, they're not that much more powerful than a standard photon torpedo, it's just that there's a whole hell of a lot of them and they all hit at once. That either overwhelms their forcefields by attacking at multiple points at once, or the phasers/forcebeams that constitute "shields" simply can't deflect that many fast moving objects at the same time.
     
  9. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    The Narada's weapons are from the future and it was expected that they'd go through the older shields like they "were not there" as seen in the movie.

    As to the TOS Enterprise firing phasers to knock down incoming missiles I forgot to list "Balance of Terror" where they fired at the last second to detonate the Romulan warhead. That same episode suggested a phaser strike against the plasma weapon as well to detonate it. We've also seen the E-D take out a Ferengi missile that was fired at the Barzan wormhole (IIRC). Oh, and in TMP, the Klingons tried shooting down V'ger's energy weapon with their own photon torpedoes.

    What we've not seen though is an explicit defensive phaser fire against incoming photon torpedoes. Perhaps photon torpedoes are too difficult to destroy with phaser or disruptor fire? Wasn't there an episode where they fired photon torpedoes into a star and the casings protected the warhead up till when it was needed to explode?
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...Although Kirk apparently called for that very thing in ST2, against Khan's last torpedo in the first fight.

    "Quality of Life". And apparently Soran's starkiller missile had some of those qualities as well. Then again, starships can fly into stars and survive for certain lengths of time, yet weapons exist to pierce their defenses.

    It seemed every shot was fired defensively, at the incoming missiles. Of course, any miss would head in the general direction of the Narada. But then again, the enemy ship was "porous" and in theory the misses might have passed between her tentacles.

    There are a couple of good arguments for saying that the shields of STXI are not forcefields, at least not of the usual Trek sort. Namely, they never

    a) flare up visually at impact
    b) visibly protect from kinetic impact, be it at high or low speed, a weapons hit or a bump, or
    c) prevent transporting.

    On the other hand, the largest shuttle type is said to have shielding, yet is very unlikely to feature CIWS cannon in any of its incarnations. Robau twice orders power to shields, first when weapons are said to be offline, and next when no fighting is going on, in both cases suggesting that the weapons are not the shields (and never mind the separate terminology!). Pike in turn orders shields up when arriving at Vulcan but never gets any CIWS results of any sort out of it. Nero's first hit reduces shields but involves no CIWS activity. And Pike's officer refers to "deflector shields" as the thing that was tested by Sulu's bumping into jetsam - interestingly, the thing that failed to prevent scraping and physical damage despite "holding". All in all, then, CIWS is unlikely to be the same as shields in that universe, and it remains debatable if a separate CIWS system even exists; possibly it is just a mode for operating the generic (if two-tier) weaponry of the Kelvin.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    But was it really meant for the torpedo or for the Reliant? Kirk only asked to divert all power to phasers but he had not declared a target. When they were being chased into the nebula, Kirk had a chance to use phasers to blow up the torpedo Reliant fired at them but he didn't do it. It just doesn't seem like photon torpedoes are something that can be easily destroyed...
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'd say the idea of it being "too late" means it can't have been for Khan. Nothing would be too late about firing at the Reliant, surely? Except for the hope of stopping Khan from firing. But that would never have been Kirk's goal, because he ordered the phasers only after Khan had fired the torpedo...

    It would still be a desperate last grasp at a particularly thin straw, only made worth the try when Kirk realized shields were not going to get up any time soon.

    In the nebula, there would be no shields. But there would be no way to target anything much, either - Khan even missed a starship-sized target at twenty paces! The best defense against incoming torps in that soup would be to stay vewy vewy quiet and hope the enemy finds nothing to aim at.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    I was actually referring to when they were chasing each other but before any ship enters the nebula. It's when Khan says, "Explain it to them."

    The torpedo passed within a few feet of the warp nacelle pylon and under the saucer hull before detonating.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Khan clearly intended that one as a warning shot to dissuade Kirk from proceeding into the nebula, so it would make sense for it to detonate in front of the ship. Apparently, Khan still wanted Kirk alive for proper torturing.

    Whether Kirk could see this from the flightpath of the torpedo and appropriately hold fire... A bit unlikely, I'd say.

    But if shields are the proper way to stop torpedoes, and you waste power on CIWS only if shields aren't an option, then this would be a time for Kirk to hold fire anyway.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. TheRoyalFamily

    TheRoyalFamily Commodore Commodore

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    An interesting point. It seems that special observatories/listening posts, pointing in the right direction, are needed. The Dominion and Breen were able to go right around and through Federation space to get not only to Federation territory (like Earth), but also to Romulan and Klingon space, which happens to be on the other side of the Federation from Cardassia - all the while keeping their supply lines and the like. If they were easily detected, they could easily be intercepted or prepared for.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The Picard Maneuver thing could always be explained to be a special tactic only applicable in situations where the opponent's FTL sensors have been damaged.

    Since our heroes in all the Trek eras emphasize that "natural phenomena" do not travel at warp speed (apparently, lifeforms don't count), any FTL sensing would be unnatural and "active" and could be observed. It is customary in Trek for individual systems such as transporters or weapons or communications to unpredictably go down in battle while the rest of the ship continues to work. So, there would be every dramatic and logical precedent to Picard realizing that the Ferengi had just lost their FTL sensors and could be surprised by a warp maneuver, provided he made a surprising and extreme maneuver and didn't needlessly alert the Ferengi first that their sensors weren't telling them the whole truth.

    Outside this special case of Battle of Maxia, the Ferengi probably are adept at sensing at high FTL speeds. After all, their ships are among the fastest in the neighborhood, and would require navigation aids to match.

    Picard's faked log spoke of mistaking a sensor cluster for a weapons bank. Perhaps that's actually what happened? Perhaps the real Picard, once forced to fight, knocked out the Ferengi FTL sensors when attempting to humanely silence their weapons?

    Does it? Klingons once had a border quarrel with Cardassia, at the Betreka Nebula ("Way of the Warrior").

    And while there are no direct references to Romulans sharing a border with Cardassia (just to Romulans operating at the "Cardassian border", which might be their border against neutral space, in "Improbable Cause"), there are indications of ongoing Cardassian/Romulan intrigue (say, Terok Nor featuring Romulan components in "Dax" - technological aid or espionage?). And "Birthright" has Worf take a ride in a small and thus supposedly slowish craft from DS9 all the way to Romulan borderlands, suggesting spatial proximity. So the three villain realms might actually be within easy travel of each other, with only sparsely populated parts of the UFP in between at most, and we'd be none the wiser about the ability of the UFP sensor systems to monitor intrusions into "UFP proper".

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Over the past few days I've become increasingly aware that the quality of writing -- and coherence in technological development overall -- would improve dramatically in Star Trek if we simply did away with the concept of FTL sensors. You can't see where you're going at warp, and nobody can see you (though they can see where you're going, following the bright flash that follows you through space). You can't tell what's happening on a planet a lightyear away (though you can see what was happening there a year ago if you have a big enough telescope). You can't track the enemy's fleet from a distance and you can't monitor his transmissions. If you want to know what's going on, you have to send someone over there to find out.

    In the end, FTL sensors have effectively become plot holes we've been instructed to accept as canon. Given the choice, I'd rather explain them away as artistic liscense and imagine that "IN REALITY" there's a certain amount of delay going on -- that somewhere in the two and a half seconds between Picard asking Data "Any lifesigns?" and Data answering "None detected, Sir," Picard actually stepped out of the room, got himself a cup of tea and dictated his log entry for the day, only to return to that same spot ten minutes later and have Data report "Sensors have scanned the planet for lifesigns. None detected, Sir." I already do this whenever Worf hails anybody (and never waits more than two seconds to announce "No response"), so it makes sense that there's a similar amount of cinematic time dilation going on with the sensors.
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In the end? Don't you mean in the beginning?

    TOS never bothered with an impression that things would be happening in the vastness of "realistic" space. It would have been odd and distancing if the ships didn't behave like their WWII counterparts, with radar, radio and whatnot. Kirk's folks were quite aware of what was happening around them in real time, and the very few cases of communications delay (chiefly "Balance of Terror") were more like bureaucratic delays at the other end than physical limitations. If anything, the attempt to introduce delays-due-distance was a desperate one, detrimental to both drama and consistency.

    If every ship were in effect cloaked while at warp, we'd be in an even worse jam trying to explain why wars aren't conducted by surgically destroying the opponent's defenseless homeworld during Day 1, Hour 1.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Heh...:cool:

    Consistency, yes, if only because they didn't stick with it. But not the drama, not by a longshot. "We don't know how to handle this situation and Starfleet's response won't get back to us for another twelve hours" is a pretty effective plot device, putting extra pressure on Kirk to make a correct decision without being able to pass the buck to his superiors. That extra layer of responsibility adds a bit of flavor to the story premise that IMO has been missing from Star Trek.

    Actually, it would require only two things to be established in canon:

    1) War is expensive, especially in space. So space wars are fought for possesion of planets, not for possession of space. Only a few planets in the galaxy are valuable enough to justify the expense of a major war, and very few of those planets are the homeworlds of anyone who matters (Bajor being a very famous exception). You never fight a war over a planet you don't intend to keep, so you never invade your enemy's homeworld unless you're prepared to conquer it.

    2) Destroying a planet -- or just the surface thereof -- requires a massive fleet, especially if you're assaulting a world that has modern defenses (forcefields for the cities, ground-based emplacements, etc). So if you're fighting someone else for possession of a valuable planet, it is ALWAYS more efficient to focus your resources on the contested prize than waste ships and lives throwing them right at your opponent's fortifications.

    Some of these will have exceptions. The Romulans, for example, might choose to preemptively annihilate (or at least conquer/occupy) the home world of some young upstart rather than risk being in competition with them for the mineral worlds later in life. And certain resources might be easier to extract once the surface of the planet along with its population and urban centers have been reduced to molten slag. These would be specific episodes and historical events, though, not descriptions of space war in general, which is still too expensive and too expansive to be conducted over anything but very specific objectives.
     
  20. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Of course, that is thinking like rational humans. The Klingons would take advantage of that Day 1 Hour 1. Heck, they went and wiped out the Tribble homeworld. The harmless Tribbles! Just imagine if Captain Archer insulted Kang's cousin twice removed... Earth would've been wiped out just to satisfy some honor ritual :)

    Having FTL sensors is vital to keep things in check in Star Trek just to have some viable defense perimeter, IMO.