CWIN Vol. 1, No. 6
The Daemon Mechanic
Sensor Systems and Countermeasures Part 2

Written by Michael Garrity
New Omaha Vehicular Association

Web Posted August 03, 1998
Updated August 05, 2000

As powerful and efficient as modern sensor systems are, there are always people who want something better. To satisfy this desire, adavnced sensor systems of all types were developed.

Advanced Sensors

These devices are prime examples of absolute cutting-edge technology. They employ the latest advances in electronics technology, computer engineering and signal-processing to produce a sensor that is more capable than a standard sensor of the same type. An advanced sensor system of any type costs 4x normal, and weighs the same. It gives a +l bonus* to all spotting rolls made with the system. According to the dictates of the GM, advanced sensors may be unavailable. They may also exist only as prototypes (an additional 2x cost modifier), or they may be general-issue.

Even though advanced sensor systems are first choice among those of the warrior set, there's always some government bean-counter who demands that cost (and not capability) is the overriding concern. To this end, cheap sensor systems were developed.

*  This +l is also applied to the existing +l bonus given to all to-hit rolls made with weapons aimed by ladar (total modifier of +2).

Cheap Sensors

Cheap sensors have less capability than standard sensors of the same type. A cheap sensor costs half as much as a standard sensor of the same type, and has a -1 penalty applied to all spotting rolls made with it. This penalty is considered to reflect the used of less-advanced technology. Still, cheap sensors are better than no sensors at all. Consider the effectiveness of an aircraft equipped with cheap radar against an aircraft with no sensors at all (other than the pilot's MK-1 eyeball). The natural desire of an engineer who has designed some particular sensor system is to continuously improve it. One way in which this desire is expressed is the creation of advanced sensors. The other way is to create specialized versions of the sensor. Current examples include anti-aircraft radar, radar altimeters and long-range radar. Among current sensor systems, two versions of search radar which are commonly available are air-search and surface-search.

Air-Search and Surface-Search Radar

These devices are two different systems which hve been optimized for their assigned tasks. Air-search radar is designed to detect and classify aerial targets. It is most efficient when those targets are at or above some mimimum altitude (usually 500' to 1,000'). At this height, air-search radar has an additonal +l bonus to all spotting rolls made with it. It also has a -5 spotting penalty against all targets below the minimum altitude (This penalty is the origin of the time-honored tactic of slipping underneath an enemy’s radar net). Surface-search radar is designed to detect targets which are on the ground or at very-low altitude. Against these targets, there is a +l spotting bonus. Against targets above the maximum altitude (500' to 1,000'), the spotting penalty is -5. Air-search and surface-search radar has no additional cost, and advanced versions are available at 4x cost. These advanced versions are often seen on specialized aircraft intended for different roles. Examples include ground-attack aircraft and air-superiority fighters.

Low Probability of Intercept (LPI) Radar

Another specialized sensor system is LPI radar, designed to defeat or seriously reduce the effectiveness of radar detectors and anti-radar weaponry. LPI radar costs twice as much as a regular radar set of the same size. LPI radar cannot be detected by civilian radar detectors, and military radar detectors have only a 33% (1-2 on 1d6) chance of doing so. HARMs have only a +l targeting bonus (instead of +4) against vehicles equipped with LPI radar. Advanced and cheap versions of LPI radar are available. Their costs, benefits and penalties are listed below.

Advanced LPI Radar

The cost modifiers are cumulative, as is the standard +l spotting bonus of advanced sensors. Advanced LPI radar reduces the chance of detection by military radar detectors to a roll of 1 on ld6. The targeting bonus of HARMs against an aircraft equipped with this system is eliminated.

Cheap LPI Radar

The cost modifiers are cumulative. Civilian radar detectors locate cheap LPI radar on a roll of l-2 on ld6. Military radar detectors locate cheap LPI radar on a roll of 1-3 on ld6. HARMs have a +2 bonus (instead of +4) against cheap LPI radar. Engineers, although being highly creative, are mutually competitive. When one group created LPI radar, another group designed the means to defeat it.

Radar Detection

Advanced Radar Detector

This device costs 4x more than a regular radar detector. It increases the chance of detecting LPI radar of either type by an additional +l to the ld6 roll. HARMs may have advanced radar-detection capability built-in at an additional cost of +$l,000 per shot. The targeting bonus of a HARM against either type of LPI radar is increased by +l .