An F-18 Hornet costs 29-52 Million Dollars. If you wanted to have an estimate on what a space fighter would be worth you would not be looking at a 10-20 year old airframe design. You'd be looking at something like the F-22 which is $150 Million US per unit, and like the F-18 doesn't have the complete life support needed, doesn't have the thrusters required, doesn't have the right engines, an airbreathing engine is cheaper than the rocket motors used by spacecraft in case you didn't know. THEN there would be the dedicated avionics suite you'd have to design for operation in space. Then there are the more powerful sensors you would need to engage at a longer range.As for space fighters being unrealistic? That's completely wrong. We have fighters now, all you have to do is modify them to suit vacuum, replacing their engines with something that works in space, and you have space fighters. The US Navy claims that the F-18 hornet costs $29-$52 million. And it is 17.1 meters in length. I did NOT make these figures up when doing the comparison.
Then we have the Space Shuttle which costs a Billion + just to build.
You'd be looking no less than a billion dollars per unit.
Yes Lasers would likely not be one-hit-kill weapons. Indeed, they would likely be used only for point defence in favour of long-ranged missiles with nuclear warheads. Adding in Force Fields, as it stands in this day and age, means you are no longer doing realistic science fiction.As far as first shot first kill weapons... that only applies if you have weapons powerful enough to kill in one shot. If you allow technology such as force fields and advanced armor (technology is one of those areas where we can't say whether or not it's realistic, it's one of the universal consistencies), then firing a laser at long-range probably won't be a one-hit kill, as laser beams widen with range, being dispersed over a wider surface.
The moment you bullshit technology in to allow stealth you are no longer doing realistic Science Fiction.Stealth in space is another one of those technology things. Our current technology forbids it. Doesn't mean you can't add tech to the setting to make stealth more possible. Especially considering space is not a true vaccuum.
If you are capable of hitting a 100m sphere at 1-2 lightseconds you are capable of hitting the long piece of tape just as easily.Spherical spaceships... actually have both strengths and weaknesses. What's easier to hit with a gun, a circular target, or a long piece of tape? If a ship is designed to be facing its target and attacking in a single direction, as well as taking damage from a single source, it's harder to hit, and harder to get a non-glancing blow, on a flat wedge-shaped ship than it is on a sphere. But that wedge-shaped ship is vulnerable to attacks from above and below.
No. A sphere is the optimal design for fighting in any way shape or form in space. You're not going to be relying on lasers for damage despite what you may believe, it takes too long for them to do their damage and at extreme range your enemy can keep you from concentrating on a single point with trivial ease. Note that if you DID have a laser large enough for a one-hit kill, you'll be visible from MUCH further away than a ship using kinetic weapons or missiles.A sphere is amazing at fighting in all direction at once. But when firepower is focused from a single direction, there are more efficient shapes. Look at a modern tank... it's designed to take hits to the front. And its armor is angled to deflect hits to the front. It makes a good design for a spaceship designed to take hits to the front, as well.
You do NOT want to design a ship whose firepower is focussed along one, or a small, series of axises, this limits the directions you can roll and rotate in to take stress from existing sections. Tell me. What happens when your wedge has to flip over and begin its deceleration burn? Suddenly your enemy has a MUCH easier target to see and not only that, but because you made your ship in an absurd shape and design you can't bring any firepower to compensate for this! A Warship in Space, Realistically, would not be in a constant course. This = Suicide. Your notion of a ship with forward focussed firepower and defences creates a weaker ship not a stronger one.
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Which I would then sell and buy as many Seawolf class as I could with the money raised.