The "Strelas'tha Incident"
Minbari Incident of sector 88 -
"The Strelas'tha Incident" - Intelligence Report - May
At the end of the Year 2263 were reported by three civilian freighters some seeings of a Minbari Warcruiser in sectors 87 and 88. The Minbari Governement denied knowledge of patrol activities of his own war units in the area. ISA tasked an Anla'shok unit, belonging to the Whitestar class, to investigate about the reported seeings. The Whitestar was able to contact the officially unidentified unit, and to assess the identity of the ship, that resulted to be the "Strelas'tha" Sharlin Warcruiser.
This identification was origin of some concerns in the ISA, Minbari and Earth Alliance Governements: the Strelas'tha was one of the three Minbari ships (Tragati, Strelas'tha and Vindira), manned by the "Star Riders" Warrior Clan, that seceded from the Minbari Military immediately after the "Surrender" at the Battle of the Line. As known, the Tragati crew tried to start a new Earth-MInbari conflict in 2259 (Tragati incident of Babylon 5) with a well organized plot aimed to provocate an armed reaction from the Babylon 5 military garrison and so to generate a "casus belli". The reappearence of one of the units of the "Rebel Fleet" in a period of politic turbulence (in the wake of the Earth Civil War and Minbari Revolution, les than two years after the bloody Shadow war and just a few months after the ISA-Centauri war and the Centauri secession from the ISA) had essentially a significance: troubles.
The Minbari Governement was well happy to transfer the management of the situation to the ISA and to the Anla'Shok, because this allowed to avoid an eventual fratricide encounter between a rebel crew of an higly debated Warrior Clan, and a Warrior crew that could find himself in a loyalty conflict.
In this situation, the Earth Alliance had his own problems: in 2262, a governement expedition in sector 88 made a lucky discovery in the Delta Pavonis system, sector 88: diffused veins of Quantium 40 in the asteroid belt of that star. The exploitation of such resources went on well: the sector 88 is still today an almost unexplored area at the border of the EA, and the Delta Pavonis system, because of the lack of inhabitable planets, was claimed by none of the known powers excpt the EA. In the mid 2262, EA opened a jumpgate in the system, and a consortium of civilian enterprises led by the Westinghouse Energy Co. and by the Lockheed Ltd. placed a logistic facilty in the orbit of Delta Pavonis III and two pilot minerary installations in the local asteroid belt.
In accordance with a request of the Industrial consortium, that in that period was concerned essentially by some piracy activities in the sector 87, Earthforce organized a regular patrol service in the system, with a task force of two Hyperion cruisers and a squadron of Starfuries based on the logistic orbital facility.
On April 20, 2263, a small accident happened: one of the two Hyperions experimented repeated shutdowns of the main reactors: Earthforce ordered the return of both the ships to the nearest depot for maintenance (a ship with the reactors out of order must never travel alone in the Hyperspace), and, in replacement of the two units for the period of their absence, was sent in the system the nearest available ship: the E.A.S. Sorceress, a brand new Warlock destroyer. This unit was obviously an excellent deterrent against the piracy, but was a bait for another ship: the Strelas'tha, that, unseen, was hidden in the outer area of the Beta Pavonis system.
The rebel Minbari Crew perceived this change as a clear and opened challenge, and replied in a very direct manner.
On 21 April, the Hyperspace probes of the Sorceress detected a large ship in the hyperspace, and the staff of the Destroyer presumed to be in presence of a pirate unit. The crew was alerted, and the ship, luckily, was in combat ready conditions when a jump point opened, and instead of a pirate carrier, came out a Sharlin Warcruiser.
The MInbari unit opened fire against the Sorceress with his main weapon at close range (175 kilometers, raking through about 250 meters of the side armor and damaging the right missile rack: the hit on the side of the Destroyer ablated the outer layer of armor, but was unable to pierce the inner hull or to damage internal systems. The Crew of the Earth Destroyer replied with a salvo of the missiles in the left rack and a burst of the FWD railguns: the electronic warfare systems and stealth device and the defensive fire of the Minbari unit was able to deviate or to intercept the incoming missiles, except one of them (Sandia Shillelagh with 80 MT fusion warhead, that detonated at less than 2400 meters from the cruiser, and four attack vehicles of a Blue Phoenix heavy missile, that detonated in close proximity of the Sharlin: the Minbari Cruiser wasn't destroyed by the explosions, but suffered some damage at the reactor/propulsion system, or, more likely, an emergency shutdown in the main energy grid. The few seconds of stop in the maneuvres of the Minbari unite were decisive: they gave to the Sorceress time enough to close the distance and place some shots of railgun in the rear fin of the cruiser's gravimetric drive (About 90 kilometers of range), slowing it down and reducing his maneuvability, and sufficient time to charge the G.O.D.cannons.
The Sorceress ordered the Strelas'tha to surrender, but the Minbari unit tried to aggressively maneuvre to face the incoming Earthforce unit, that at this point (about 8500 meters of range) fired a full power discharge of the G.O.D cannons against the minbari unit, that was destroyed.
The whole engagement sequence has been recorded by the destroyer's system and by a mining prospector robot probe of the Westinghouse Co., the communications between the E.A.S. Sorceress and the Strelas'tha have been monitored and recorded by the Whitestar 165, and the complete documentation and registration allowed to contain the political troubles generated by this incident.
1- This was the first time that an Earth Force warship survived an one-to-one, open space engagement with a Minbari unit, and the first time a single Earthforce warship won a direct open space engagement against a Minbari unit.
2- The engagement was successful even if the Minbari unit had the initiative advantage.
3- During the first phase of the engagement, the Sharlin fired a full power discharge with his main Bow neutron cannon, but the beam was unable to totally penetrate the armor of the Warlock:
- 3.a - the impact angle was about 30° from the perpendicular of the plate
- 3.b - the outer ablative anti-neutron layer has been totally destroyed
- 3.c - the intermediate special technology layer has been partially penetrated
- 3.d - In case of perpendicular path of the beam, both the outer and intermediate layer would have been ablated, but the inner armor should have been able to resist the penetration.
- 3.e - the other two (2) direct hits of the Sharlin damaged (perforation) the right missile rack and ablated an area of 3*74 meters of outer armor on the hull (no perforation).
4- The safety systems of the missile warheads worked very well: there were not secondary explosions in the missile rack hit by the Minbari fire
5- The Minbari ECM and stealth systems are still effective against our long range sensors and fire control systems: the acquisition and tracking systems of the missiles have been strongly jammed, and the terminal endgame sequence of the missiles has been made on telecommand guide through laser data-link, on a line-of-sight direct attack path: this enbled an effective anti missile fire by the Minbari unit, and a lack of precision in the endgame sequence. Both the optical trackers and the laser uplinks have been unharmed.
- 5.a - It is urgent the upgrade of the missile trackers at the block IV-A standard (Multispectral optical wideband/laser semiactive homing)
- 5.b - The proximity fuzes of the warheads have been decepted by the Minbari EW systems. The radar proxy fuzes must be replaced by Lidar proxy fuzes as secondary system, while the primary fuze must be the impact delayed fuzes model M185 or similar.
6- The Minbari stealth systems are uneffective against the hyperspace probes and the passive tachion scanner.
7- The Minbari stealth systems are only partially effective against the XGL-1 LIDAR. an improved system is needed, but the
premises are good.
8- The Minbari stealth systems are uneffective against the A.M.S. IRIG-6 Optical/Infra-red long range search and track system, that was a decisive system in the engagemnt, providing affordable and stable target tracking and positive lock-on, and allowing the whole missile engagement and the other weapons fire control.
9- The high rate of fire, small calibre railguns (Super Rapido 127/748) have proven themselves effective in terms of piercing power and terminal damage, and have shown excellent accuracy.
10-The Aegis Mk. V G.O.D. cannons have been used at short range, so out of their optimal (long range) tactical environment: neverthless, they have shown a deadly terminal effectiveness, piercing from side to side the main hull of the Sharlin and causing the Warcruiser to explode. The Warlock destroyer was able to outmaneuvre and engage at short distance the enemy ship thanks to the reduction in the maneuvre capability caused by the partial demolition of the gravitic drive rear fin by the railgun penetrators.
Overall, while still inferior to the Sharlin/Shargoti class warcruisers in terms of sensors, mobility/maneuverability, electronic warfare, and probably point defence/antifighter systems, the Warlock class Heavy Destroyers are positively superiors to the Minbari warcruiser in terms of armor, structural sturdyness and damage tolerance, and have an edge in sheer firepower.
The two classes of ships are actually roughly equivalent, except for the superiority of the Minbari in the electronic warfare.
This engagement was won by the Earthforce Destroyer thanks essentially to a correct tactical approach and to the firepower: Improvements in the area of the sensors and in the missile guidance and fuzing systems will eliminate or improve the most relevant weak points of the Warlock class Destroyers.
The "Deep Eyes" ** Program of the EFNI is actually working in this direction.
May 24, 2263
|Capt. Fiona UGAKI||EFNI Investigation Office|
|Cdr. Roderick THORNE||EFNI Naval Operations Division|
|R.Admiral Daryl CELLINI||CINCOPEFNI.|
***EYES ONLY*********EYES ONLY**********EYES ONLY**********EYES ONLY***
Note**this was one of the most demanding activities developed by the EFNI Technical Division, and weighed heavily on the Service's budgets from 2263 to 2265; the first outcomes were the systems operative on the E.A.S. Styx: EGAD, I.L.S.S. and I.O.W.T., that actually (2278) are standard equipment of the first line Earthforce ships.
|Declassified: May 25, 2278.|