The Star Army
Main Article: Star Army of Yamatai
Main Article: Star Army of Yamatai
Blink Tactics are a means of taking advantage of the natural lack of FTL around a star to attack or counterattack in certain situations. These tactics are intended to be used for achieving or maintaining STL space superiority in a star system and ensuring an FTL superiority or deadlock around the star system against enemy forces. It is easier to achieve around a small star system than a large one due to the response time necessary to get to FTL, unless friendly vessels are already nearby patrolling just outside the star system.
STAR ARMY OF YAMATAI FM 16 TACTICAL COMBAT REFERENCE 7月28日 YE40
In most situations, weapons can only discharge at light speed or less. This means that much of the combat in space happens at slower-than-light velocities within a star system itself rather than in interstellar space. However, in cases where a long range sensor system is present and a fast enough vessel can respond, it becomes possible to mobilize and respond to threats on the boundary of natural FTL denial where most ships are forced to reduce speed to below that of light. In these scenarios, the way combat is conducted can be changed greatly. Blink Tactics are named for the idea of 'blinking' in and out of the enemy's sight while using small FTL jumps to deliver attacks and avoid return fire, ideally while the enemy is trapped at sublight speeds. It should be noted that the size of the star system influences the ability to utilize these tactics in response to an aggressor unless certain preparations are made with these tactics in mind.
These tactics were developed on the battlefield in YE 40 by Kage Yaichiro, CO of the YSS Sakura II, and they were employed by the First Expeditionary Fleet's Third Squadron in the defense of the Scrapyard System during the Kuvexian War. As a result, one Plumeria-class (2E) Medium Gunship and three Plumeria-class (2D) Medium Gunship were able to disable or destroy hundreds of unaware enemy vessels and thousands of enemy fighters with the spread functions of their main guns in under ten seconds of combat operations. It should be noted, however, that other factions may have employed these tactics earlier and simply were not documented.
There are a few requirements for these tactics to be feasible.
While not strictly necessary, these attributes assist in turning the odds toward a party.
A Defensive Blink is an assault tactic of using FTL sensors to detect an attacking enemy before they arrive in the target star system and deploying a squadron of interceptors outside the star system to move around and ambush their flank the moment they enter the star system and lose FTL capability.
The 10 LY diameter (5 LY radius) sensor networks of various ships and Star Fortresses are rather useful for this task, as the highest hyperspace speed is typically 1 LY/M. Because this gives as much as five minutes of warning before an enemy arrives in a star system, it is sometimes possible to have ships depart the star system in time to intercept an attacker or simply have squadrons patrolling just outside these star systems in shifts if they are of enough importance to defend. Please note that this presumes that the enemy is not employing some form of stealth, CFS-based or otherwise, that can completely fool the sensors. More advanced sensor systems like those of Star Fortresses or large networks of PANTHEON's Eye Covert Sensor Probe are less likely to be fooled by such maneuvers presuming comparable technology levels.
These interceptors, typically high speed gunships with a spread-capable high-output main gun (like the Plumeria-class (2D) Medium Gunship or the Plumeria-class (2E) Medium Gunship) flank the enemy and stay at the edge of FTL-capable space while they attack the hostiles who are stuck at sublight speeds. Because allied assets are often not kept at the edge of a star system, the spread modes of the interceptors can be used without concern of hitting allies provided the attacks are properly executed, and the interceptors can also dodge enemy attacks at FTL speeds by keeping a small amount of their CFS balance set to propulsion.
Denying the enemy FTL capability while preserving it for one's self in this manner becomes a force multiplier, allowing even a squadron of Gunships to cause massive damage to a much larger force with the proper warning, while also helping maintain space superiority within the star system itself.
While this tactic can surprise and overwhelm an enemy, there are still responses which an enemy can employ, whether they be desperation tactics or countermeasures. It is not impossible, for example, for an enemy to discharge a high output Aether weapon toward a non-mobile target in the star system if it is within up to 2 AU in order to accomplish at least some sort of damage before its destruction. In such a case, large ships or a Star Fortress may need to be on standby near such a target if present to intercept the blast with a 200% barrier facing to avoid retaliatory damage to a planet's surface and any population on it.
One should also be prepared in case an enemy held back some of their own forces in nearby interstellar space to conduct a Support Blink against allied interceptors. If this is the case, one should always be ready to enter FTL themselves at a moment's notice. Trust in the MEGAMI and in one's own FTL sensors is essential.
An Offensive Blink is very similar in execution to an Defensive Blink, except it is conducted against enemy forces which can be attempting to enter or leave a star system and is an assault tactic more geared toward an offensive or siege strategy. While similar in practice, this name implies that an enemy maintains space superiority over a star system and also controls its own sensor networks. When the enemy has its own long range sensor networks in place that are superior to those of the attackers, the enemy is more likely to be able to expect such maneuvers and plan for things like Support Blinks. Because of these differences, it warrants its own designation.
It is possible for an attacker to bring in their own mobile long range sensor system in an attempt to maximize the impact of such movements, but this is a large enough allocation to require being part of a larger overall strategy.
A Support Blink against allied attackers is possible if not likely, and it is very important to be ready to respond by getting out of the way of such an attack at FTL speeds. Careful monitoring of the MEGAMI and of FTL sensors is essential, as always.
A Support Blink is a counter-assault tactic which can be used as part of a general defensive or counter-siege strategy. It is conducted typically in areas where there is suspected or known to be an enemy in an area which might attempt Blink maneuvers against an ally should the opportunity arise. Vessels that are already in FTL space around a star provide cover to allies entering or exiting a star system by being ready to blink in and provide an instant counter-attack to a hostile. While the odds of landing a hit or being hit are low when both vessels are capable of moving at FTL speeds, likely initiating a chain of blinks known as a Blink Dance, destroying the enemy is not the point of the Support Blink. The Support Blink simply exists to buy time for the craft stuck in STL to either escape the range of the enemy's weapons or to enter FTL themselves, rendering the enemy's attack a failure while also letting them know that attempting entry into the star system is a recipe to be flanked and attacked.
Vessels which are assigned to patrol the FTL area around a star system are expected to provide Support Blinks as needed to protect assets entering and leaving the star system. A patrol is even expected to provide such support for its relief so the relief can safely reach interstellar space, and then is immediately granted the same support as it re-enters the star system upon relief from its patrol duties. Such vessels ensure at minimum a deadlock of FTL control around a star system, which in turn helps protect the star system's STL space superiority. They can also act as a deterrent against an enemy bothering to enact blink tactics against that star system in the first place.
A Blink Dance is a scenario where two or more vessels begin to blink against each other, typically in response to a Support Blink or a failed Offensive Blink where a target achieved egress from a star system. It is called a 'Dance' rather than a 'Battle' because the odds of one side actually getting a hit in on the other are quite low. Unless one side gets in a lucky hit, this tends to continue until one side elects to stay in FTL or depart the area entirely. Entering the star system immediately after a Blink Dance is ill-advised, lest one be flanked.
While not in and of itself a good starting tactic for combat, it can have a psychological effect if done near an enemy's own holdings or core systems which can influence how an enemy allocates the distribution of their forces at a relatively low cost. As such, a skilled commander may find a use for the Blink Dance within a larger overall strategy.
There are assorted efforts which can help to lower the risk of a blink or mitigate its effect in various situations. They include the following measures: