The Truth About Warp Maneuvering and Warp Strafing

[Editor's note: this page claims that warp maneuvering and warp strafing are both standard practice and would give the Federation an insurmountable advantage over the Empire ... because Imperial ships will presumably throw away their enormous speed advantage to sit still for it :)]

It is reasonable to conclude that warp maneuvering is possible, especially given the number of incidents in Deep Space 9 during which ships apparently change course from one system to another after being engaged by hostile forces. The faults with this particular page lie more with the warp-strafe theory.

[Editor's note: I wouldn't let him off the hook so easily. The dialogue he wants to discard is not necessarily irreconcilable with observed warp maneuvering; it merely indicates that the safety factor is poor. The original cite from the Voyager episode "Fury" is:

JANEWAY: Tom, what's the first thing they teach you about maneuvering at warp?
TOM: "Faster than light, no left or right." When possible, maintain a linear trajectory. Course corrections could fracture the hull.
JANEWAY: Exactly. We'd have to drop to impulse every time we made a course change.

RSA uses some example of warp maneuvering to prove that this particular piece of evidence should be ignored. Leaving aside the obvious fact that he would never allow "Warsies" to get away with something like this, I would point out that the dialogue from "Fury" merely says that it puts great stress on the hull, not that it's impossible. A slower ship, one which hasn't been battered as much as Voyager, one which can afford microfractures in its hull which will be repaired at starbase, or one which is simply more structurally sound by design would obviously have greater warp maneuvering ability than Voyager in this situation. There is no need to throw the dialogue out the window, despite RSA's obvious desire to do so. It would appear that warp maneuvering places great stress on the ship, and like it or not, this is now canon evidence]

The Elaan of Troyus reference to warp-strafing is flimsy at best. The warp-strafe was never observed, and the Klingon ship was frequently reported to be at warp when in actuality the relative velocity between the two ships eliminates the possibility that the Klingon ship is actually at warp, during the pass. [Editor's note: this is RSA's only observation of phaser warp-strafing (the rest is flimsy conjecture), but Sulu calls out the ship's range in kilometres as it approaches on strafing runs, and he has time to call out "ninety thousand, seventy thousand," etc. This would obviously be impossible if the ship is approaching at more than 300,000 km/s. Moreover, the fact that the Klingon ship was said to be maneuvering at warp despite the very low speeds reported by Sulu indicates that warp strafing must involve a brief drop to sublight for the actual engagement, and warp is only used for maneuvering between shots; keep this in mind when examining his other "examples" and flimsy rationalizations thereof]

If warp-strafing were possible in Star Trek, it would change the manner in which combat takes place from what we see. The oft-touted Picard Maneuver would be worthless, because it would be possible to avoid stopping within an opponent's frontal firing arc to attack the ship from behind. This would be particularly invaluable to Star Fleet vessels, as they have considerably more rear-weapons than their opponents typically have, and would allow them to engage enemy ships from a tactically superior position, delivering at least one and probably several more uncontested shots. Moreover, warp-strafing would make the armed space stations we see throughout the series completely worthless. If warp-strafing were possible, the Klingons and Dominion, during their attacks on Deep Space Nine in "Way of the Warrior" [DS9] and "Call to Arms" [DS9], the attacking forces should have used such tactics in order to render the station's defenses ineffective. This is the primary objection to warp-strafing, and is conveniently not answered or even addressed by Anderson's site.

Next page