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Rarebear's avatar

Why couldn't the navigational deflectors of a Constitution or Galaxy class ship be used as a weapon?

Asked by Rarebear (25159points) April 18th, 2017

Tactically, let’s say your opponent is parked in front of you. Why not just put on max impulse and ram them with your deflector?

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22 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

I do not think it is strong enough to withstand a full on collision.
You can turn it into a single shot phaser array, though.

kritiper's avatar

They gather not project. No.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

For every action, there is an equal and opposite REACTION !

Zaku's avatar

Most starships, filled with hundreds of highly-trained cherry-picked crew and the best technology available, tend to try to avoid collisions. Ramming ships into each other would be suicide.

Also, ramming things with a giant ship, even if it were not undesirable, would also be far harder than locking on with a photon torpedo or phaser and firing.

Moreover, the other ship could and would take evasive action to avoid being rammed. It wouldn’t likely work.

Also, it’s a deflector shield (again, for deflecting things away, not for hitting them), not an annihilation ram.

Seek's avatar

It’s been done with dying ships. Ramming speed hurts. It’s a cushion, not a foolproof wall.

gorillapaws's avatar

I don’t understand why they don’t build warp-capable drone shuttles with a large shield to use as kamikaze “torpedoes.” I would think something the size of a shuttle at warp speed would pack a pretty devastating punch even with their shields up. Mass x Acceleration and all that.

ragingloli's avatar

It may not look like it on screen, but Federation torpedoes move at warp speed. And they have at least antimatter warheads.

Seek's avatar

@gorillapaws – because “warp” is just that. It warps space. If something too big jumps into warp too close to your ship, your ship is going to be annihilated.

kritiper's avatar

As I understand it, “Warp 1” is light speed to the 2nd power, “Warp 2” to the 3rd, and so on.

gorillapaws's avatar

@ragingloli I didn’t realize that. They don’t look like they’re moving very fast onscreen (much slower than phasers).

@Seek Doesn’t that contradict @ragingloli point? Is it because they’re small enough not to damage the ship they’re launched from?

Come to think of it, it would be a really cool visual effect if the torpedoes launched via impulse speed until they cleared some distance from their ship, and then instantly accelerated to warp speed into the target like railgun rounds. That would look pretty cool.

filmfann's avatar

@kritiper Warp speed varies between series. Roddenberry proclaimed that in the 24th Century, warp time/distance speeds were adjusted. That’s why warp 14 was achieved in TOS, but warp 10 is impossible to reach in TNG.

Zaku's avatar

@gorillapaws Well, they do, er, at least in Star Fleet Battles, the complex simulation game based on TOS. It’s really the explosion that does the damage, though, not the kinetic energy. You equip a shuttle to act as an unmanned “suicide shuttle”, charge it with power from the ship, and then send it out. You want to arrange the situation correctly, though, because a starship can generally out-run or use weapons to destroy a shuttle, so you want to maneuver so that they aren’t prepared to do that and the shuttle appears in the right place at the right time.

Similarly, IIRC, when Commodore Decker suicided his ship by piloting it into his target, it was the antimatter explosion of the warp drives that did the damage, not deflectors or kinetic energy.

kritiper's avatar

@filmfann It’s all science-fictionally moot anyways…

Zaku's avatar

@kritiper Sort of. There are degrees and contexts where some discussion makes sense. If you’re talking about one film or episode where the author more or less cared to be self-consistent, the plot can involve such details. Star Trek has some somewhat consistent continuity within a season, with some exceptions, at least on some topics. TOS and TNG are pretty different on the topic of speed, though. Not only do the warp speeds mean different things, but in TNG most starship action has ships slow to light-speed to fight and interact. In TOS, ships regularly maneuver at fight at warp speed (several times the speed of light). That shift seems to have taken place in the first Star Trek film, where the authors made a lot of changes in how tech worked, and going to warp speed was treated as a much bigger deal than in TOS, with various weird special effects and chair straps and dangers and limitations that never existed in TOS.

cazzie's avatar

Because it doesn’t help with plot points or moving the story line along. (this is science fiction, folks. I’m sure once they get artificial gravity, FTL speed and dampeners for inertia worked out I’m sure they’ll work this one out too, but it isn’t real yet.)

kritiper's avatar

@Zaku I did say it was moot…
If the deflectors had enough power that they could be used as weapons, then they would/could be a danger to general navigation. No, they only have enough power (and power supply capabilities) to do the job they were designed for and no more.

Rarebear's avatar

This is my reasoning. Navigational deflectors are designed to sweep debris in front of the ship while moving, presumably at impulse but maybe at Warp.

Let’s say your phaser and torpedos are out. Circuits blown in battle or something. But your nav deflectors are still operational.

If the nav deflectors are designed for sweeping away debris couldn’t another ship be considered “debris?” Couldn’t you go on a collision course with another ship and instead of destroying both ships in the process sweep that other ship aside causing damage at the same time?

Seek's avatar

You can use a palm fan to sweep away a mosquito. You cannot use it to sweep away a baseball.

kritiper's avatar

@Rarebear If the ship’s deflectors could, they could move planets, asteroids, even suns out of their way, as well as other ships. Variations could be spawned across the bow of starships that could change whole planets and solar systems thus being in direct violation of the prime directive.

Rarebear's avatar

@kritiper Well, obviously. And that’s I guess where I was going with this. Did the navigational deflectors just sweep away the dust particles, but what about an asteroid?

@Seek You can too sweep away a baseball with a palm fan. It just won’t be pretty.

cazzie's avatar

They don’t go warp through asteroid fields.

kritiper's avatar

@Rarebear Gotcha with that Prime Directive, didn’t I??
It would be a simple matter of dealing with asteroids at pretty much any size because you would be travelling so much faster than the speed of light. And you would be bending time as well as space, so when the ship encountered the asteroid, it would be neither here nor there, so you would sorta fly through it, what might be there. Actually, anything of a large size would/could also be detected and flight automatically altered to accommodate the obstruction in the flight path, if flight corrections were considered to be necessary.

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