Phaser yield, range - same for torpedoes

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Deks, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    Type X phasers were referenced in the TM to be in the gigawatt range... but this doesn't really hold ground when we take into account that the average grade photon torpedoes from TOS/TMP era are supposed to be carrying 1.5kg of matter and 1.5kg of antimatter, resulting in 64 megaton explosion (probably shaped charge style) - though conversion efficiency wise, it was indicated that 48 megatons is a closer explosive yield from unofficial sources.

    Using the photon torpedo as a reference, a Type X phaser would be thousands of times less powerful if the gigawatt ranges hold credibility - which they don't really when compared to what they were doing with them for precision drilling, and how much the power output needed to be reduced.

    Some have speculated that Type X phasers on the Galaxy class are equivalent to 100 000 TW per second.

    135 000 TW would be roughly equivalent to 31 megatons.
    So, a Type X phaser at maximum setting would deliver same energy as a lower yield photon torpedo in about 2.75 seconds

    But, if these figures are more appropriate for TNG and beyond... then if the conversion efficiency for photons is above 90% and close to say 60 megatons... then a 2 seconds phaser burst at maximum power could easily be seen as a viable offensive starship weapon.
  2. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

    May 23, 2015
    It's better to ignore the TM's in these cases, and just go with visual analysis and dialog examination. The problem with that is the visuals and dialog are greatly at odds with each other. It's also not worth getting caught up in phaser type and the supposed wattage. Work from the examples first and derive values from them.

    Going by visuals will give a damage equivalent of kilotons of TNT per shot for phasers, possibly in the 100 range, and a high end of anywhere from 30 to 100 MT for torpedoes.

    However, DS9: "The Die is Cast" is an extreme outlier in visuals, but suffers from unrealistic representation of blast effects. Because of that, there are people out there willing to dismiss the scenario completely, despite dialog confirmation of complete crust vaporization, and other extreme actions.

    "TDiC" is isn't just megatons, it can give a low end figure in the gigatons range per torpedo and phaser hit. That actually fits in well with the statement in DS9, by Garek, that the Defiant could burn a planet's surface to a crisp. It also fits well with TOS, where a bucket of antimatter, as Spock puts, will blow off half the planet's atmosphere. That one is a teraton range explosion. That stuff also fits better with how the Enterprise-D in TNG can dig a multiple mile deep shaft in a planet's surface in a matter of seconds using its phaser. Actually, that's a low end event, a better example is when the Enterprise in TOS has to shoot down a planetary shield protecting a mental institution, where Garth of Izar is kept, and someone states that even hitting the weak point of the shield on the opposite side of the planet will kill all life on the planet.
  3. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    TMP is not canon anyway... its just a guideline.
    I do go with what was stated on-screen, but mainly the stuff that actually makes sense for their society in terms of technical prowess (which the writers shunned to the side or toned down a lot because according to some of them, they were simply 'too advanced' to show it on-screen).

    For instance, the maximum effective range of weapons (phasers) would be about 300 000 km.
    Torpedoes of course would likely have a bigger range... just how much bigger though, I'm not certain.
    However, it is likely that when the torpedoes are used, the most one would see in an animation would be a flash from the torpedo tube (but not the actual torpedo itself) indicating the firing mechanism, which could result in the opposing ship being hit instantaneously if they are 300 000 km away - we've seen torpedoes fired at warp, or even a stationary station firing a stripped photon torpedo which achieved high Warp velocity and maintained it (suggesting the torpedoes might achieve Warp velocities when fired - besides, it stands to reason both phasers and torpedoes would be FTL weapons for Warp strafing maneuvers to work).

    Same with phasers (beam or pulse)... you wouldn't be seeing the beam 'traveling' to the target, but hitting it in the same instant it was fired from the emitter (at least to the naked eye).
    Since most Federation ships seem to have a top sublight impulse speed at about 74000 km/s, they wouldn't be able to evade phasers... heck, even torpedoes wouldn't really miss - unless a dampening field was in place which scrambles targeting scanners (but even this can be remedied via manual targeting [which any SF security officer would likely be able to accomplish] - and again, once fired, the weapons are still faster than the ship - where on the ship they hit though depends on the person firing them).

    I think this is how CGI combat situations should have been portrayed in Trek in the first place (could work if done properly).

    Apart from that, do we know how much is an 'isoton' in terms of megatons?
    Voyager had Type VI photon torpedoes which were described by 7 of 9 as having an explosive yield of 200 isotons.
    Later on, it was stated that a 54 isoton explosion (of a regular torpedo) is able to 'blow up a small planet', whereas a 200 isoton warhead would likely be able to do the same to a huge one (actually, I would imagine that 100 isotons would do the trick as well).
  4. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

    May 23, 2015
    The NX-01, Enterprise-D, and Voyager all hit the 80-90 PSL range. "Best of Both Worlds" Pt 2, the E-D goes from Jupiter to Earth in about 45 minutes, and the top end is something like .96 c. Voyager does an .85 c run, but I can't remember when or where, it might have involved passing between two pulsars, or other stars? The NX-01 while passing through a Nebula, with only the Doctor awake, pulls .90 something c. I think that's derived from the size of the nebula and how long it was supposed to take to get through. It's been too long since I annalysed that one.

    300,000 km fights can definitely work on screen, and they can be cheaper than the kind of fights in DS9. Babylon 5 did them, and various anime have done them. Even TOS did it, just by focusing on Kirk and his thinking processes, instead of on ship motion, which can get boring anyway.

    In Voyager, while running from an automated combat probe, or something like that, they fire a torpedo at warp backwards. It travels several billion kilometers. Sure, all the torpedo needs to do is stop relative, but still.

    On the weapon of speed, phasers actually seem to take 1.5 seconds to propagate regardless of distance. Try explaining that. There's no good answer, but sometimes I like to think they're pumping the phaser energy out at higher velocity for greater ranges only, to save on energy.

    As for torpedo, I agree, they should be able to kick to warp on their own, and look like a flash. Based on the lack of point defense fire in Trek, torpedoes should also have shields which are immune to attack. I used to like to imagine them as overpowered shields intended to burn out in a few seconds, like in that TOS episode with the ship which is on a suicide mission and moves super fast, etc. Except, the new graphics make it so the ship doesn't have a torpedo like shield, but a rotating set of lights.
  5. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    One of the torpedoes in TNG which was modified for studying the star had shielding on them.
    And a few Voyager novels described them as using shields too.

    It does make sense they'd have these capabilities if you want to the torpedo to be able to penetrate an opponents shield on a specific frequency.
    Though, for some reason, wouldn't it make more sense that 'torpedoes' would not be proverbial missiles but rather pure energy such as plasma
  6. Ithekro

    Ithekro Vice Admiral Admiral

    Apr 5, 2012
    Republic of California
    Having a physical torpedoes allows it to carry the systems needed to be altered for shielding, maneuvers and to deliver specialty payloads. A ball of plasma can only be a ball of plasma.

    Plus that was what the Romulans were using back in the day, which didn't seem to register as something Starfleet was using. At least on USS Enterprise back in The Balance of Terror.
  7. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

    May 23, 2015
    I have not cared for the term "pure energy" for a long time. There are all sorts of ways to transmit energy, and the term implies some sort of godlike embodiment of mystery energy.

    The Romulan plasma torpedo in TOS is so dangerous not just because of its extraordinary power (it is so hot that surviving metal is brittle) it can also move and maneuver at faster than light speed. The Enterprise had to not only go to warp backwards, but turn very hard. If it were unguided, even a small deviation at warp would have resulted in a large miss. We see a non-material torpedo is possible, unless it had some unstated guiding device. It really should have some sort of device backing it all given its abilities.

    A real life self sustaining plasma projectile is called a compact toroid. Compact toroids are actually more stable the hotter they get, but even then they last only a second or so, yet move extremely fast. Shiva Star could get them to 10,000 km/s. Hitting one with a laser might make it more stable from greater heat, or the unequal force might shatter the toroid. A weapon like that though is purely line of sight, without any sort of terminal guidance, which is really how the Romulan plasma torpedo should operate, even if warp capable.

    In any case, the plasma torpedo is just another energy weapon running off the ship's power system. It means diverting ship's power to fire one. Photon torpedo require fuel, and they run off the same fuels as the firing platform, but they convert the fuel to energy them self.

    It's likely not perfect, because in Voyager's first episode, Chakotay's ship has an armed torpedo in the launcher, and I believes he fires the torpedo in order to free up energy. Something like that happens. My guess is, in addition to the launch energy, I think ships probably overcharged the shield at launch, so they need to built up a strong charge for each launch. Or, maybe the torpedo shields on an armed torpedo are activated, and have to be kept topped off; so, the torpedo either has to be de-armed, or fired to free up the power drain. However, the charge process, and energy drain are likely all lower than what is involved with a plasma torpedo.

    Secondly, a plasma torpedo also lacks versatility. We already know torpedo casings can be used for things other than weaponry, and are likely what some probe hulls are based on. They can dig through a planet's crust, in addition to the sun diving, and as mentioned they make a handy transportation device. Photon torpedoes are also highly variable in yield, and are extremely precise.

    If I were writing a Trek fiction, I would introduce new types of torpedoes with new abilities. For the Klingons I came up with a fully warp capable missile carried under the wings of the Bird of Prey, and used as a stand off weapon for a first strike against a target. In larger ships they are stored in VLS style cells. At their cheapest they don't have shields but their warp speed is extremely high, they have surprise (thanks to cloaked ships as launch platforms) and are cheap enough to have high numbers to hit targets despite point defense fire. High end ones are cloaked, but they are rare.

    For the Federation, they make a multistage torpedo, kind of like how battleship guns, or certain tank guns: first the shell, then a load of propellant. But, in this case it's a sensor package with fire control and warhead, then an engine package. The fore and after parts are each the size of a normal torpedo, so they are loaded individually and stacked in the torpedo tube end to end. That allows the fore part to have far more warheads, or larger warheads, or larger sensors, while also having full warp capability and greater maneuverability in all situations, or a larger fuel supply for greater endurance and range. So, it's really a way to keep the old standard tube diameter while achieving a stronger weapon.

    Romulans go for a highly network-centric system of suicide drone torpedoes. Individually they are weaker than other torpedoes, but they are launched all at once. They spread out and form a sensor network and self coordinate attacks, making defensive maneuvers extremely difficult, if not pointless. Once the battle is done, remaining torpedo drones return to the mothership. They're extremely useful outside of battle too, because of their ability to form an artificially enormous sensor by networking. They can form a solar system size transceiver in a matter of minutes useful for surveillance, communication, and scientific endeavors.

    I also like to imagine the D'Deridex class carrying ICBM like weapons in those scale like details on its dorsal and ventral portions. It gets in close to a system with its cloak, then drops a device or two on a planet, no more planet.
  8. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    ....The easiest assumption might be that it's analogous to the SARH missiles of today: just like those missiles fail unless the launching aircraft constantly "paints" the target with its radar, the mothership of a plasma bolt weapon has to constantly project a warp field that keeps the plasma weapon going.

    It's a huge disadvantage, consuming a great deal of power throughout the engagement (unlike the cloaking device, which we in later adventures learn consumes minimal power only, despite Spock's original speculation), and thus keeps our heroes from encountering the weapon more often. But luckily for the Romulans, the user can choose a power setting of his liking, and get off a bit more easily if firing a less destructive plasma charge. Hence the weapon returns in "The Deadly Years" but poses much less danger per hit for our heroes.

    Timo Saloniemi
  9. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

    May 23, 2015
    I realized I posted out of context in the other thread, so I moved this here.

    The problem is, even one shot from a well charged phaser should produce several kilotons equivalent of damage. I've seen estimates of anywhere from 100 kilotons up to 8 Megatons per second for ship phasers.

    Using the episode's map, I'll use the red dots as intentionally hit impact sights - they just seem most likely - and use 100 Kt impacts. I'll apply that in NUKEMAP, using the "Launch multiple" command.

    The image is fairly large, so I will only link it. I realized an error in the image. At one point I tried a 100 MT bomb, thought I removed it, and it recorded the injuries and deaths for that anyway. So the "Most Recent detonation" needs to be subtracted from the total detonations, for a wounded count of 2,402,620.

    As you can see, the damage would be extensive. So, it's the Doolittle Raid only in relative terms, because if a small fraction of people in one city died in that raid, then the same fraction died out of an entire planet in the Breen raid. But, it doesn't hold out, because the damage shown is too light, so it has to be less than a Doolittle Raid.

    If any of those hits were torpedo strikes, then they would be at least 20 megatons, and easily up to several hundred. Even one hit by a 100 Mt device would have wiped out the entirety of the bay area. This is why I think the Breen didn't actually touch any of San Francisco with weapons, why I think the city(s), or planet, either have shields, or only Breen ship debrii caused the damage.
  10. Ithekro

    Ithekro Vice Admiral Admiral

    Apr 5, 2012
    Republic of California
    We've seen phaser, torpedo, and even disruptor hits on planetary targets that don't really do all that much more than an equivalent sized shell hit from a battleship or cruiser. Unless the hit strikes something reactive (power generation system, or weapons storage) their aren't usually the huge secondary explosions either.
  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    ...If one wants to use a well charged phaser, that is. Some of the most impressive bombardments in recent history have involved serious pulling of the punches - the equivalent of a samurai cutting exactly two and a half locks of hair from the forehead of his opponent without drawing blood. Scary as hell.

    Remember that collateral damage is easily avoided even when phasers of high power are used. The secondary effects from Nero's insanely powerful drill, for example, seemed to be limited to just a puff of vapor that did no harm to the SF Academy crowds ashore.

    What tactical goals could the Breen have aiming at? Remove SF HQ from existence? That would hardly carry practical tactical significance: Starfleet leadership would be well distributed during this widespread war, and its San Francisco elements well protected against anything lesser than a Xindi doomsday beam anyway. Maiming Golden Gate would actually have more impact on Earth's will and ability to carry on the fight!

    Well, there's a curious error (?) in the DS9 image already: no shot-dots fall on the locations established in the actual footage of damage (Golden Gate and both the shores of the narrows)...

    ...Indeed, why would we neglect the role of defenses from the argument? Photon torpedoes may be scary, but our heroes aren't scared of them, as they have defenses in place. We should assume nothing less of the folks down at San Francisco.

    If there was no weapons fire against the city, and/or Breen wreckage was the only thing that might have pockmarked the landmarks, why is there damage at all? We have been shown that even the most benign civilian presence in space is capable of defending itself to some degree, against natural threats. And what would be more natural than inert objects falling from the skies? ENT already demonstrated Earth's ability to divert even largish comets!

    Even the unnatural has to be prepared against. Spacecraft can fall from the skies even when no evil intent is involved...

    OTOH, we never quite hear of planetwide shields in Trek, even though there is ample opportunity and even need for such mention. The closest we get is an anti-beaming shield extending across the whole of the Elba II planetoid, and Scotty never thought he would have any trouble penetrating that with the ship's weapons.

    I actually think the Breen raid represents a good balance in terms of what was established earlier on. We know that a single unopposed starship can destroy a planet ("A Taste of Armageddon"). We have seen a small fleet of ships achieve exactly that, in mere minutes, when the projection by the attackers was that it would take hours - apparently, the total lack of defenses made the crucial difference ("The Die is Cast"). We have seen defensive mechanisms that would explain the difference: orbital fortresses that make short work of mighty starships ("Tears of the Prophets"), shields and underground fortifications that make key assets (but not whole planets) impervious to attack by starships under certain minimum size and power ("Return to Grace"). And we know from DS9 and, through omission, from all the rest of Trek, that when major wars are fought, the combatants are unable to inflict strategic damage on each other's planets, and indeed never even bother to try, despite the ability to easily reach those planets under cloak or at high penetration speed.

    Here the Breen exhibit nothing new in terms of tactical capabilities, just as Doolittle demonstrated no new capabilities in strategic bombing or naval-air warfare (indeed, he willingly revealed the fundamental weaknesses of the assets available to him!). The Breen show willingness to fail bravely - and that's what counts.

    Timo Saloniemi
  12. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    In DS9, single disruptor blasts at full power from at least several ships caused destruction to 30% of planetary crust from only a few seconds of bombardment.
    Granted, they were paired with torpedoes, but each torpedo and disruptor blast caused a very large damage radius (easily equivalent or going way past 100 megatons)

    Most other instances of planetary damage via phasers or photon torpedoes that did little damage were usually portrayed as coming from SF ships... which were highly modified - namely, they weren't set to full power and were modified to avoid atmospheric dispersal which could otherwise destroy life sustaining properties and any lifeforms on the surface.
  13. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    The curious question there is, what difference would Dominion defenses have made? Why would it have taken hours to destroy the planet, instead of minutes, had the defenses been there for real?

    1) Would it have been difficult to deliver the individual warheads past the defenses to the surface? That's a bit difficult to believe: the attackers only lobbed a couple of dozen shots at the planet before declaring a third of its surface melted down. Simply lob a bit more and saturate the ability of, say, surface phasers to shoot them down (especially since we have never seen defenses stop flying objects from reaching the surface even when said objects were limited to one hero-flown shuttlecraft - at worst, such a craft was damaged into a crash landing, or lost within emergency transporter range of the surface).

    2) Would it have been possible to render warheads or death rays harmless even if and when they were able to reach their targets? We know that shields can stop weapons in starship-to-starship combat. But we never see really large shields in action, and we do learn of weapons that can penetrate starship shields (say, those coming from fixed fortifications such as orbiting killer sats, space stations or surface bases). Wouldn't those make short work of planetary defense shields? At least if applied at the seams and junctions, or at unshielded areas of wasteland where the effect could melt the crust and set the defended cities hopelessly afloat in a sea of magma?

    3) Perhaps it would be a matter of turning a starship's guns from the "fires quickly and tracks enemy ships but doesn't level continents" setting to the "only fires dead ahead twice a minute but packs a lot of punch" one... And the ships could not turn the knob if they had to stand prepared against defending starships? But again, it ought to suffice that one or two ships in a fleet were busting the continents while the others protected the bombards. If twenty ships (or twenty with those trackable quantum singularities, plus a few hundred other, weaker ones? the DS9 episode doesn't really tell) can do 1/3 of a planet in a few minutes, then one ship (or a like percentage of a larger fleet) should still be able to do the full planet in an hour or so, not requiring five hours.

    We don't learn the "why" here, alas. But we do learn that by conventional 24th century military thinking, even large fleets of ships cannot easily kill entire planets if opposed. Which is consistent with what happens (and doesn't happen!) in Star Trek otherwise, and specifically consistent with what the Breen raid achieves.

    Timo Saloniemi
  14. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

    May 23, 2015
    There's controversy over the episode in question because the blast effects are flat (which is unintuitive and should be impossible in atmosphere), faster than light (again impossible, but not so much for Trek), and don't kick debris into space (which is illogical, but not out of the question for Trek).

    However, the dialog is perfectly consistent in the episode, and not only do the Cardassians and Romulans think it is a realistic plan, but a Starfleet admiral at one point agrees that it should work as described. Then when it happens, a Romulan reports that it's working as stated. So, it's worse.

    The weapons are not merely greater than 100 Megatons, like they might have been in TNG: "Skin of Evil" and VOY: "Rise" they exceed Gigaton scales of energy. DITL, unfortunately the only place I know of which has tried calculating the episode, has a couple estimates which range from 25,000 Megatons to 20,000,000,000 Megatons, or 25 Gigatons to 20 Petatons. For comparison, the Chicxulub crater (in real life) was created by a 240,000 Megaton (240 Gigaton) impact. One single hit by even the low figure figure would be enough to wreck a good portion of the planet for decades and kill tens or hundreds of millions of people.

    This is why I find the Breen attack such a conundrum, and I'm glad to see you are aware of the episode. Actually, I was purposefully avoiding "The Die is Cast" because it takes the Breen attack from interestingly puzzling to utterly incomprehensible. There has to be shields at some scale which can dissipate planet vaporizing weapons, or there need to be damn near instant overwhelming defensive weapons, or both.

    If a single hit got through it would be the end for Earth, so there has to be a shield either for the whole planet, or every continent, or at least for every population center. But it is preferable to be planet wide, otherwise the oceans might vaporize on the high end. Or, Starfleet has to be so absolutely sure of its defenses that the only danger ever is falling debris. But, the conquest of Betazed seams to counter that idea.

    The goal is show the Dominion can hit Earth, but to waste the opportunity to real damage is a pointless waste. Hitting Starfleet headquarters would have thrown the fleet into disarray, even if temporarily, as new personnel learn their positions. Assuming wide distribution of admirals is an assumption. We know there were admirals there as shown in other episodes.

    Destroying the cities of the bay area would also deplete the Federation of minds, and cause greater public resistance to the war.

    Putting a hole in a useless bridge, no matter how liked, won't do any of that.

    Collateral damage is easily avoided when the attacker wants to avoid collateral damage. The Breen had no reason to avoid collateral damage.

    Nero's drill was a drill, so would have been designed to put as much energy down, and not out, as possible, in order minimize the amount of energy not drilling. We've seen numerous times that beams in Star Trek do not have secondary effects on contact with atmospheres.
    I meant with the map I made, not the canon map. The canon map actually has eight yellow triangles with black dots in the center of each, one of which is very near Starfleet headquarters. That one could explain minimal damage on Starfleet Academy if debrii from an impact there impacted on the Academy, but it doesn't explain why a better attack was not used.
    My point is, if there were shields, then the damage could have been caused by bleed through, as in weapons energy with bleed through the shield and strikes the city anyway, causing reduced damage. It's similar to how weapons can hit shields and still cause system disruption.

    Or, there were no shields and what hit the city was just ship debris. The quote of the incident says almost all the Breen ships were destroyed, implying there were too many for the assets there to handle completely. Meaning debris would have easily gotten through without being vaporized, since there wouldn't be time to waste on that action while enemy ships are still functional.

    When discussed by the crew, they stated the shield at Elba II can be shot down, but it will destroy all life on the planet, even if they shoot the weak spot on the opposite side of the planet. The only way that would all be the case is if the shield were a normal phaser resistant barrier.

    In "A Piece of the Action" we already know the phasers can be tune down enough to safely strike a city block with stun energy. So, striking an undefended generator without harming anything else would have been trivial.

    Now are not even in disagreement. My whole point is there has to be some sort of defense which prevented a proper strike on Earth.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Some minor points, general agreement and nodding, some big questions:

    Hmh? We see enough of the curvature of the planet to get the impression that the blast effects already reach the very top of the atmosphere despite being "flat". Air would be too thin above the region of flatness to be comparable to the air to the sides of the impact point. So if the green and yellow glow from the blasts is something dependent on interaction with thick air, we really shouldn't be seeing any three-dimensionality in excess of the effects of the episode.

    Not if doing "real damage" under all circumstances requires the use of a large fleet of starships, few or none of which will return from the mission. In that case, it's better to just establish "we could have killed you" with too low a number of ships than to voluntarily render oneself militarily impotent.

    We learn in "The Die is Cast" that the Founder hideout world can be reduced to molten rock by a determined attacker. Yet we learn everywhere else in Star Trek that neither Earth, Qo'noS nor Romulus has been reduced to molten rock yet. Why? We have little choice but to speculate that the Founder hideout was a special case, and that in the general case, doing massive damage to defended worlds via conventional starship attack (even with cloaks involved) is out of the question - simply because it has never happened.

    This is why I don't see the damage from the Breen attack as exceptional in any way: it is totally consistent with the evidence of how war is waged (and not waged) elsewhere and elsewhen in Star Trek. The only quoted exception to norm is that the Breen even dared make the attempt, after all.

    The question of why orbital bombardment doesn't work is an interesting one. The fact that it doesn't is an underlying feature of Star Trek, though.

    OTOH, "Return to Grace" showed that even random Cardassian outposts can be immune to starship attack through passive measures ("subterranean, much too fortified"). And officers aboard starships have ways of surviving fleet attack, too. SF HQ could by all rights be impenetrable to fleet attack as well - or at least the key components thereof. Hitting any other spot on Earth might be preferable if the aim is to create casualties in the hopes that this will weaken, not strengthen, the will of the UFP to fight.

    Key there is that there is no life on the planet except that which sits atop the shield generator...

    However, Scotty does not specify that blasting through the shield at the opposite side of the planet would have this devastating effect. No target option other than the beam-down site is presented in that dialogue yet.

    And the relevant facts of the Elba II shield are that it can't stop a starship from destroying the planet, and it can't stop a shuttlecraft from landing. So it suggests one of two things:

    1) Starfleet (and by extension, its on-par enemies) is unable to create shields that would defend entire planets from orbital bombardment.
    2) Elba II does not warrant the above technology, despite it very much existing.

    What we get from "Whom Gods Destroy" is minimum performance for UFP shields. It's not incompatible with the assumption that it is also maximum performance for said shields, a choice that would mean that orbital bombardment should work. In which case we have to postulate other reasons for why it doesn't, such as MAD doctrine.

    Yes, here we have an example of a completely undefended planet. Sure, a starship can stun a bunch of brawny gangster-LARPers on open streets, but that fails to establish

    a) that Starfleet could stun its enemies in the general case (STV:TFF shows it cannot - not every opponent is a healthy male standing in the open, protected by a felt hat)
    b) that Starfleet could hit targets with immense precision (but this is established elsewhere, such as TNG "Legacy")
    c) that Starfleet could hit and disable targets deep underground (but again "Legacy" suggests this ought to be possible, as long as no defenses are in place)

    And indeed that is the interesting question. Planetwide shields lack canonical support, although scaling up from starshipwide to citywide sounds plausible (phasers scale up that way, from starships to space stations). MAD only works until you meet a mad opponent. Shooting down incoming torps has never worked too well, and shooting down incoming death rays never works as far as we can tell. Keeping the enemy from firing at all sounds impossible, even given the relatively slow rate of fire generally witnessed (or are all space battles shown in slow motion?).

    Yet somehow it all does work, not only against the Breen, but against the Klingons, the Romulans and the Cardassians - it works so well that they never even bother to try! And that is the even more interesting question. Explaining Breen failure could be done by arguing that city shields work sufficiently well in deterring a symbolic raid. But the other foes might be desperate enough to keep on pumping ships to the grinder until enough of them have fired their guns into Earth's crust and sent San Francisco afloat.

    Timo Saloniemi
  16. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    My apologies for reviving an old thread, but something occurred to me.

    On the upper scale, I can easily see 24th century Trek weaponry (Federation in particular) hitting Gigaton during TNG and even Teraton levels (during DS9) easily for the simple matter that direct conversion rates do not readily apply due to heavy application of subspace technology in everything, and of course exponential advancements in weapons technology between TNG and DS9.

    We've seen how subspace properties are applied to a variety of technologies... computers, phasers and torpedoes just to name a few.

    This would suggest that even if a photon torpedo has 1.5kg of matter and 1.5kg of antimatter, the direct explosive yield would not necessarily be 64 Megatons... but could instead be 10000x larger... in the 640 Gigaton range during TNG era, or possibly larger still, in the Teraton range during DS9 because by the time we saw the Romulan and Cardassian fleets firing on the Founder's planet and destroying 30% of planetary crust in opening volley (requiring Teratons of power), it stands to reason that R&D would occur on an exponential level which would increase subspace effect on regular weapons (and possibly increases in M/AM storage capacities - because I find it very hard to imagine that the Romulans or the Cardassians would be far more advanced than the Federation - if anything, they'd be at a distinct disadvantage considering the Federation is a collection of over 150 different species working together which would massively accelerate any and all advancements).

    We've seen phase states of energy weapons such as phasers regularly altered, and even photon torpedoes can have phase discriminators - but my point more relates to how use of subspace technology INTERACTS with regular M/AM (and similar) reactions (or Nadion particles for that matter)... in effect, massively amplifying the base explosive yields (or energy input) to very high levels.
    It could also be why Isotons are used as a measure as opposed to more conventional units.
    And this could further imply that you wouldn't need to necessarily increase M/AM storage units either... just fine-tune the subspace field interaction on the explosion to gain a much larger effect.
    Sure, the advancements in storage would also occur which would allow say a photon torpedo to store for instance double or quandruple the amount of matter and antimatter inside same space which would with further fine tuning to subspace technology amplify the explosive effect.

    Now, Photon torpedoes would be using subspace tech to amplify destructive properties but they wouldn't BREACH subspace.
    Tricobalt devices on the other hand were able to do that and might be FAR more powerful because of that (possibly due to lower control over subspace interaction which allows for greater explosive yields) and might be used as a last resort in case regular photon torpedoes aren't enough.
    Voyager used Tricobalts on the Caretaker's array after all, mainly because it was alien in origin and comprised of certain % of unknown alloys. They'd probably use such (exotic) weapons to deal with relatively unknown superstructures that could pose a threat.

    The TNG movie 'Insurrection' says that the Khitomer Accords banned use of subspace weapons... which seems a bit stupid, because most of the technology (weapons included) are subspace based. Although, its possible the accords might stipulate how much of a subpace interaction there is. For example, nothing that actively creates breaches in the fabric of space-time (that much is obvious), but if you use subspace technology to carefully enhance the explosive effects of a weapon WITHOUT generating breaches, then yes, this would likely work.

    Photon torpedoes may not have had phase discriminators regularly installed in them until late TNG, BUT they would need subspace field modulation technology in place if they were to be used at Warp (after all, both Phasers and Photon Torpedoes can be used at Warp speeds... and if they have no subspace field projectors and modulators in place, they probably wouldn't be capable of being used in Warp, or other FTL means).

    Even the Cardassian 'Dreadnaught' carried 1000 kg of matter and 1000 kg of anti-matter, which Tuvok mentioned was enough to destroy a small moon.
    Would 64 gigatons be enough to do that?
    Depending on how small the moon actually is I suppose, but it would still have to classify as a relatively large interstellar body... larger than Deimos for example (as we've seen Photon torpedoes being mentioned capable of vaporizing or at least shattering asteroids the size larger than Deimos, which would require at least hundreds of gigatons and possibly Teraton range yields).

    So, while the actual size of M/AM inside of Photon Torpedo might not change (which seems unrealistic), the subspace technology which amplifies its destructive yield is probably fine-tuned with each newer generation of torpedoes, resulting in much larger explosive yields.
    In some cases, if you have a breakthrough in subspace tech, you'd probably leave the existing design of photon torpedoes intact and just upgrade the subspace modulation technology... and if you have a breakthrough in storage, you'd increase the amount of M/AM inside the torpedo.

    It may be why we're getting some fairly small quotes on screen for certain power outputs.
    The weapons themselves need really low levels of energy, but due to subspace technology, they can achieve massive destructive levels (far more than what's put into them).

    I find it very difficult to imagine that weapons technology (in Trek no less) would be lower than what real life if capable of producing (which simply doesn't make any sense when compared to some of the feats both phasers and torpedoes were seen do, let alone when you factor in how advanced the Federation is supposed to be).
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019