Formation refers to the positioning of ships flying together. It's a means to organize a fleet.
- 1 Background
- 2 Basics
- 3 Tactical Formation
- 4 Strategic Formation / Order of Battle
Unlike in ancient times formation doesn't have the same effect or value. It is still being used for concentrating firepower, for defense and for strategic purposes. However, space weapons power and the high speed at which ships fly makes traditional formation flying less effective or even meaningless.
For the most part the reason for formation flying is defense. A tight formation prevents an enemy passing through, while overlapping firing arc increases firepower and defensive fire.
The safe distances between ships is no longer measured in ship's length but in the reaction time and speed ships are flown. At relativistic speed a distance of dozens of thousands of kilometers wouldn't be surprising.
There is no definitive orientation or up and down in space, hence, traditional maneuvering is not restricted to any direction.
The disadvantage of a formation is it's not flexible. The position within a formation are relatively fixed and ships are required to maintain distance and orientation. With or without any kind of maneuvering non-center ships are forced to waste a lot of fuel to maintain position and speed. Even a relatively simple course with a simple two-ship formation will force the wingman to consume about 20-30% more fuel. Wingmen will use more fuel especially in close formation as this requires more adjustments. This is a critical point for range. Therefore, formations aren't preferred in space.
With increased distance in space communication and data sharing have become vital in organizing ships.
Staggering is a relative positioning of two ships to each other in which both ships are positioned somewhat off or one back on an angle. They are not directly side by side whether on the side or above or bellow.
In normal space 3D formation matters. In plane space only 2D formation is possible unless inside the space-time bubble.
Battle Line Formation / Wall Formation
[[File:|200px]] This is the traditional line or front line. In space the equivalent formation is a Wall formation. It is most often used by mine carriers to release waves of mines.
[[File:|200px]] This formation is traditionally used to hide following aicrafts in the shadow of the first aircraft. A stretched version (eyeball/shooter) is used to allow the trailing aircraft to keep an eye on the leader and give cover.
In normal space this formation is the most dangerous.
- The exhaust of spaceships exit a ship at very high speed and may even be radioactive. A ship flying behind it will be roasted or damaged otherwise. The safe distance is even larger than for a formation.
- Should the lead ship loose something or get destroyed the following ship will crash into the debris.
- An enemy force can simply shoot straight and hit all ships.
In plane space this formation prevents ships from crashing into each other when merging with an enemy space-time bubble. As the appearing position of a ship merging is random on the wall of the space-time bubble there is the risk a ship might appear too close and collide. For small ships this formation forces non-targeted and automatic attacking mines to engage the closes ship first, hence sparing the other ships.
[[File:|200px]] This formation allows different units to time or coordinate their attack in unison.
Wedge Formation / Cone Formation
[[File:|200px]] This traditional formation is used to breach an enemy battle line while preventing the ships ahead from being flanked or surrounded. It facilitated both manoeuvrability and the shock of the charge. It is easier to turn than a square or wall formation because everyone followed the leader at the apex. Another advantage is ships at the flanks can retaliate. In space the equivalent formation is a cone.
Encircling / Sphere Formation
[[File:|200px]] This traditional formation is used to concentrate fire or to commence a siege or enforce an embargo or a blockade. In space the equivalent formation should be a sphere. The sphere formation can be used to protect assets or to "enveloped" enemy forces.
Crescent / Hemisphere Formation
X- / Claw Formation
An odd "claw" number prevents friendly fire.
Strategic Formation / Order of Battle