Subject : A Hawk among Crows From : Ltj Joy Eleven To : Lt1 Kevla, LtJ Krinsh CC : Crew of Hawking Date : 9601.03
While asking each department to contribute ideas for the upcoming battle seems appropriate, I propose that Ops, Tac, and Flight Control may wish to work together. Science is suggesting some interesting innovations. We may wish to emphasize the basics, maneuver and weapons.
Most of the suggestions made so far fall under the category of 'tricks' rather than 'tactics'. Suggestions include flooding the system with nebula matter, confusing the enemy with telepathy, using the sun to block sensors, and modifying shields to make it seem that the ship is somewhere else.
There is a place for tricks. In fact, if we are outnumbered fourteen to one, I would prefer to have twelve tricks available. You can almost count on a trick working once. They are fine for shaking up an opponent's plan, taking initiative, or getting out of a tough situation. However, counting on the enemy not figuring out the trick and working a counter is be hazardous. Using the same trick twice in one battle is hazardous.
We must not get too far from the basics. We must pour energy into their shields faster than they pour energy into ours. Tractoring stardust diverts energy from weapons and shields. Altering shield programming to make it seem we are elsewhere might generate a miss, but it would cost energy and lessen effectiveness of the shields.
Therefore, while I am not in opposition to tricks - in fact, I will be suggesting a few of my own - we should not forget tactics. What are the strengths of our ship, and the weakness of theirs.
Preliminary estimates indicate 14 ships of unknown classes running cloaked. I am assuming the bulk of these ships are K'Vort or B'rel class Klingon Birds of Prey (KBoP). These are significantly smaller than Hawking, roughly equivalent to the Federation's Oberth class. The basic KBoP design is older than the Constellation class, but new KBoP construction has recently started. Like Hawking, many old KBoPs have been refitted with modern technology.
Some newer KBoPs can use weapons while still partially cloaked, though maintaining shields or reaching high speeds while cloaked remains problematic. This design, however, emits excessive tachyons. A special class of torpedo designed to seek tachyon sources - the McCoy Special - is available. Some older KBoPs have a defective cloaking mechanism which can be activated from another ship. As they cloak, shields come down, leaving the ship briefly vulnerable.
In a straight no cloak energy battle, Hawking might hope to engage and defeat two to five KBoPs, depending on how much their systems have been upgraded. Unfortunately, their number advantage is projected to be greater than that. Therefore, we can afford little to no damage in any given exchange. It follows that action against only one such ship at a time should be sought.
The K't'inga and 'D7' classes are also based on a design older than the Hawking's. However, these were designed as battle cruisers, and are similar in size and power to Hawking. If fully modernized, a K't'inga might defeat Hawking in a normal space energy dual. Klingon weaponry may have a slight advantage in power, while the Federation has an edge in range and accuracy. However, Hawking has recently been refit with the latest Federation technology. If we are dealing with old K't'ingas or D7s retired during the disarmament following the Praxis incident, we should have a significant advantage over any given ship, but are unlikely to escape an exchange unhurt.
The Vor'cha class attack cruiser is simply out of our class. This is a brand new attack cruiser design, a pure warship, much larger than a Constellation. A Galaxy or Escort class ship might be able to take on a Vor'cha one on one. A Constellation would be simply outclassed. If a Vor'cha is present, we should immediately yield the system.
The weakness of all these ships is that they are designed around a 'trick'. They use cloaks. Engines on cloak ships must be designed to leave a minimum ion trail or warp signature. Power plants must be designed to transfer energy quickly between cloak, shield, weapons, and propulsion. Generally, you can not shield when cloaked. While newer designs can fire while cloaked, weapon recharge time and propulsions speeds are low when this is attempted.
This should give us a speed advantage, distinct when the opponent is cloaked, significant even when their cloaks are down. As stealth is a much lower priority in Starfleet propulsion design, we should be able to easily out run anything except the Vor'cha.
This will enable us to break of combat at any time. Phaser range is roughly one light second. Torpedo range is roughly ten light seconds. Warp 8 is 1,024 times the speed of light. Thus, by entering warp, we can get out of harm's way in milliseconds. A KBoP engineering crew attempting to come out out of cloak and surge power to weapons will not be pleased by an order for maximum warp. The engineering delay in activating warp should be sufficient for us to clear the scene of battle.
It should also be remembered that phasers are a speed of light weapon. While more efficient than torpedoes at sublight speeds, hitting a FTL ship from another FTL ship with a light speed weapon is problematic. One must get ahead of your enemy and hope they do not take evasive action. Torpedoes are the weapon of choice in FTL mode.
Given their superiority in numbers and over all firepower, one Klingon approach would be the Manticoran 'Wall of Battle'. They would keep their cloaks off, hold a fairly tight formation, and we could not come into weapons range of any one ship without becoming vulnerable to all of them.
If they attempt this, we should not accept close in battle. We might have longer range torpedoes than they. We could perhaps fire from extreme range, where they could not effectively return.
A second approach would be the Maquis swarm. Again, they ignore cloaks. No formation. Just close the range so their smaller ship's weapons have best effect against our larger ship. We could only target a few of their ships at a time. Targeted ships go to maximum evasion and put energy to shields. All other ships take free shots at point blank range.
Again, we should not accept this battle. Use our speed advantage to keep out of effective range of the bulk of the fleet. If a few of their faster ships get ahead of their main body, slow down enough to let them 'catch' us, and pick them off one at a time. If they are pursuing us, the small range advantage of Federation torpedoes is emphasized. Their torpedoes have to catch up with our ship, while they are running straight into our fire. Also, if we are faster than they, we can control their energy availability in a chase. We could only let them catch us if they put all their energy into engines, which leaves them short of energy for shields and weapons.
The third and most likely tactic is hide-and-go-seek. The leader of this group does not seem to believe in open confrontation. He is patient. He is covert. He likes surprise and evasion. He reminds me more of the Dominion shapechangers than a Klingon. Thus, I expect the opposition to scatter, cloaked, and each captain or group will attempt to use cloaks to get a first clean shot.
One response is 'McCoy Special' tachyon seeking torpedoes. One torpedo could take a KBoP out of the fight, as cloaked ships are generally shields down. Also, Hawking's refit as a science ship gives us a sensor surplus. We may be more suited to locating cloaked ships or ion trails than most.
As Ops, my primary concern would be power management. In most normal space battles, fusion reactors are linked to impulse, while all other systems are tied to the warp core. As the warp drive is not in use, this provides a surplus of energy to weapons and shields.
I would like to recommend staying in warp configuration during this fight, even while in Einstein Space. We should power weapons and shields primarily off the fusion reactors, leaving warp drive with a high energy priority. This slows our weapons recharge rate and lessens firepower somewhat, but allows us to break off combat at any time. If the bulk of the opposition is KBoP, we should be able to defeat a single opponent even with power reserved to warp. When the first KBoP decloaks, we stand and fight. At the first indication of a second or third KBoP coming into range, we should warp out.
The Klingon response would be to sneak up on us in formation, and decloak as a group. Maintaining coordination while cloaked is difficult, and they may or may not have trained for it. We may want to withhold use of the 'McCoy Specials' until we have taught them to come in in formation, then launch the 'McCoy Specials' in large numbers.
The above attempts to optimize use of traditional weapons systems. It includes suggestions for optimizing our response to the Klingon tactics. It at best will force the Klingon commander to alter tactics until he stumbles onto something we have not anticipated.
While I spoke poorly of 'tricks' earlier in this note, and am hesitant to endorse energy intensive plans, I am not confident that conventional weapons will defeat this force, no matter how cleverly we maneuver. I fear we shall need as many 'tricks' as we can come up with.
Subject : Evaluation From : Ltj Joy Eleven To : Ciana Re Stardate : 9603.01 Councillor
I have been carefully reviewing the tactical situation for our upcoming battle. While mine is not a professional opinion, it seems a distinct possibility that Alpha is out of his mind. Are you certain he has not been allowed to return to duty prematurely?