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Active Sensors/Fire Control
Active Sensors and Missile Fire Controls are player-designed components.
- Active search sensors are a necessity for any fleet. They are needed to target hostiles, and to detect incoming missiles.
- Missile Fire Controls can only operate in conjunction with an active search sensor. The active sensor does not have to be on the same ship.
An Active Search Sensor is a radar-like instrument that provides 360° coverage and gathers target data by bouncing gravitational pulses off an object and is necessary to provide a Fire Control sensor with target positions.
Increasing a sensor's size increases its power. Active Sensor Strength is the strength per HS of the gravitational pulses sent out by the sensor while EM Sensitivity represents the ability of the sensor to detect the returning pulses. Hardening reduce the chance of destruction by electronic damage from microwave weapons. All these can be increased through research.
Resolution determine the range versus different target sizes. An active sensor is able to detect any ship of a size that is equal to or greater than its resolution at its maximum range. If the target is smaller than the resolution, the maximum detection range is considerably reduced.
Max Sensor Range = Strength x Size x Sqrt(Resolution) x EM Sensitivity x 1,000km Detection range = Max Sensor Range x (Target Size / Resolution) ^2
So you need to design active sensors based on the role intended for that sensor. An area search sensor might be designed with a large resolution to find large enemy ships while a sensor designed to detect fast attack craft, which weigh 1000 tons or less, would need a resolution of approximately 20. Missile detection sensors are usually resolution one, which is the lowest possible.
It is not possible to hide behind another object (a planet or a wreck, for example) from sensors, but Cloaking technology can reduce the range at which a sensor can spot your ship.
Active sensors emit an EM signature when they are turned on. The signature is equal to the grav pulse strength(or "GPS") of the sensor.
Grav pulse strength = Active Grav Sensor Strength x Size x Resolution
Larger search radars emit substantial signatures - even at basic tech(strength 10), a 50 HS sensor at resolution 500 will have a signature of 10x50x500 = 25,000, which is almost as large as a starting home planet. As such, it's generally wise to keep active sensors turned off when not in combat, and rely on passive sensors to detect the presence of enemies.
Missile Fire Controls
By changing the sensor type to Fire Control, you build a Missile Fire Control (MFC). It is designed like active sensors, but is unable to detect targets. It emits a concentrated beam of radiation to "illuminate" a target and direct missiles to them. Because of this concentrated beam it has triple the range of a similar-sized search sensor.
In order to fire missiles, a fleet must be able to both detect the target and send missiles against it - in other words, you need both an active sensor and a missile fire control. The active sensor may be located anywhere, and a whole fleet can use detection data provided by a single active sensor. Conversely, fire control is not shared between ships, and every missile-equipped ship (even one as small as a fighter) must have a missile fire control capable of illuminating its target in order to fire at that target. Note that missiles may be fired at a waypoint without need for a missile fire control, but in general this is only useful for missiles with built-in sensors(either to target themselves, or to act as sensor drones).
Design considerations are discussed in-depth here: Active Sensor Design.
- Active Sensor Strength
- EM Sensor Sensitivity
- Total Sensor Size
Total Sensor Size ranges between 0.1-50 HS.
- Minimum Resolution
Minimum Resolution ranges between 1-500 HS.
- Electronic Hardening
|Chance of Destruction (%)||100||70||50||40||30||25||20||15||10|
- Active Sensor Type
|Type||Search Sensor||Missile Fire Control|