The Third Battle of Bajor
Seen in "Sacrifice of Angels"
Last revised: 2000.08.03
Federation Objective: Stop Gul Dukat from destroying the minefield blocking the Bajoran wormhole.
Approximately 1200 Dominion and Cardassian vessels including fighters.
DS9 station defenses: numerous phaser banks and photon torpedo launchers.
Two battle fleets combined into a single task force, adding up to roughly 600 ships including fighters.
Gul Dukat anticipated the attack and sent his entire fleet of 1200 ships to intercept Sisko's fleet well before it came within range of DS9.
The Dom/Card fleet intercepted Sisko's fleet as planned. It assumed a battle line, which was essentially a "wall of ships" formation designed to block Sisko's forward progress.
Sisko's fleet was stopped cold by the Dom/Card battle line. Since his ships were no faster than the Dom/Card ships, he couldn't go around their formation so he had to try to break through. His capships formed a battle line of their own while his fighters harassed the Cardassian ships in an attempt to entice them to break formation and open up a hole.
Dukat saw through the tactic but he ordered his ships to take the bait anyway, knowing that Sisko would fly through the resulting hole and be easily destroyed by a murderous cross-fire.
Sisko flew through the hole along with several other ships. They were cut to ribbons as Dukat planned, and the Defiant was the only survivor. Sisko went to warp in an attempt to quickly reach DS9 before Dukat could fire the weapon which would destroy the minefield.
Dukat was informed of Sisko's approach but ignored it because the Defiant wouldn't have a chance against DS9's weapons.
Sisko arrived too late, and the minefield was destroyed. The mission was a total failure, and would have heralded the beginning of the end for the Federation if not for the intervention of the wormhole aliens. Sisko asked them to save Bajor, so they destroyed a vast fleet of Dominion warships coming through the wormhole. The episode should have been nominated for the award of "most pathetic anti-climax in history."
How could the Empire have succeeded where the Federation failed? Their tactics might look like the following:
If Gul Dukat uses the same battle plan, it's ridiculously simple: use hyperdrive to fly around his battle lines. A handful of ships would easily suffice for eliminating the station itself, and stopping Dukat's attempt to destroy the minefield.
However, Gul Dukat is not likely to use the same battle plan. He would be smart enough to know that the speed of hyperdrive makes the battle line useless, so he would probably cluster his entire fleet around DS9 itself.
DS9 is essentially immobile except for station-keeping thrusters which would be totally inadequate for maneuvering, so this would make the job easier in spite of the defending fleet. Remember that the objective is to stop DS9 from destroying the minefield, not to destroy the Dominion fleet. Therefore, several alternatives exist:
Superweapons: use a Death Star, Galaxy Gun missile, or superlaser-equipped Star Destroyer such as an Eclipse or Sovereign-class ship to blow DS9 to atoms from millions of kilometres away (or tens of thousands of light years away, in the case of the Galaxy Gun).
The old fashioned way: move the fleet into numerous distinct battle groups, and position them so that a timed hyperspace jump will bring them all into realspace at point blank range, facing DS9 from several different directions. Have them all open fire with heavy turbolasers at DS9, ignoring the Dominion fleet entirely.
Long Lance: copy the Japanese tactics at Guadalcanal and fire hordes of missiles from long range, such as hyperspace courier probes retrofitted with warheads. An immobile target can be attacked in this manner with a reasonable expectation of success.
Kamikaze: simply ram DS9 with a large starship, such as a droid-controlled cruiser set on a hyperspace collision course. This tactic takes advantage of the speed of hyperdrive and Imperial production capacity.
Another option is to simply close the wormhole itself. Although the effect of (for example) a Death Star blast into the mouth of the wormhole is not known, I think it's highly doubtful that it would be good. Of course, this would offend the Bajorans, but an Imperial commander isn't likely to lose any sleep over it.
Flip side: how would an Imperial officer have fared in Gul Dukat's place?
The question is moot. An Imperial officer would have no need of the wormhole, because his ships could easily move between the alpha and gamma quadrants without it.
Conclusion: The events of the third battle of Bajor were driven largely by the Federation's inability to accelerate around the Dominion battle line and attack DS9. With that impediment removed, the battle would occur around DS9 itself instead of taking place in deep space, far out of weapons range. Advantage: Empire. On the other side, the Empire could achieve Dukat's objectives without having to bother with a battle. I would give the Empire 2 for 2.
Stephen Collings, for pointing out that DS9 moved from Bajor's orbit to the mouth of the wormhole, so the tactic of blowing up Bajor to destroy DS9 could only work if it's a high-powered blast (Alderaan-style), and that would wipe out the minefield, thus negating the usefulness of the tactic.