WC wargame idea

Hehe...I like your signiture Slawter. =P We should do more recruitment. =P (That, by the way is my messed up version of a smiley sticking his tongue out...dare to be differant, ya'll. )
I could see SWACs working for traffic control and up to the second recon to allow a capship's radar to focus on more important duties, but remote torpedoes are a bit of a stretch. I would think they'd get shot down easily if fired from so far away that they'd need remote control.

Plus, assuming all sides have some sort of ELINT and SWACs, most fighter jobs would be down to investigating blips and HAVCAP, with no real surprises in combat.

There's no reason that capships couldn't have really powerful detection equipment of their own, but I agree it would probably need a large array or dish. If you look at the good old Imperial Star Destroyers, they've got a big dish right behind the hangars.
I think this game sounds good so far.

I've just got a few things I think you should keep in mind.

Firstly, I think the role of a CAG would work so long as the missions were interesting and changing, any rank above CAG might be boring if it's not micro-managed and micro-managing several carriers might be boring itself. And, whether it's story driven or not, allow a bit of freedom. i.e. you would get a basic mission, but would choose whehter to run, hide or fight and, if fight, what to attack.

Also I love you idea of the three phases of a fighter mission. But you should remember to present the player with as many hard choices as possible without right or wrong answers. E.g. Whether you should send an entire squaron on a strike or leave some behind in the hangar to defend aginst an attack; how many of those ships should be fighters and how many should be bombers; how many of those fighters should attack the enemy fighter screen and turrets and how many should sit behind to guard the bombers. Also things like the amount of wings to send to patrol, the more you use the more your prescence will be known, the less you use the less intel you will gather and the more dangerous the mission will be for the pilots that are sent.

I also have an idea for character management. You could have them as just ordinance with names until they reach "ace" or "ace of aces" status, then their chance of survival increases and they begin to become more characters than ordinance.

Anyway, I hope this helps with inspiration.
If you referrering to the giant dome thingy sticking out the butt of the Stardestroyer like a pimple...

Official Lucas Film sources have identified that to be the Reactor for the ship, not a radar. If anything, less is known about SW Radar then about WC.

I came up with an interesting theory, GeeBot, if you'd like to hear it. It requires some basic understand of radar first, so lemme get that out of the way.

When you want to detect a flying hunk of metal flying a good distance away from you, you send our a wave of radio energy at the target (sort of like a sonar ping). When that wave hits the target it's affected by: the angle it hits at, the material density, and the speed at which the target (and the radar wave) are both moving. All of these factors contribute to something called the Radar Cross Section, which would be (in simple mans terms for everyone else reading this) the amount of the ship which is detected and reflected back on Radar.

That being said, the best possible position to limit your Radar Cross section to the Radars in WC would be head on (Which is probably why we don't see more Z-axis fighting in the games and such. This limits your radar cross section almost as much as it possibly could. There is one better position, however, that has been overlooked.

When a radar reflects off of a metal object at a 90 degree angle it is reflected almost straight back in full force, minus however much was absorbed in the material. Imagine shining a flashlight straight into a mirror, it appears right back on the opposite wall. Now imagine shining that flashlight at a 60 degree angle to the mirror, where does the radar energy go? It goes down, and out, and away from the "source" of the light.

So by that assumption, if you approached a Carrier/Radar detector so that their radar reflected down at you and hit you at a 60 degree angle you could approach with minimal cross section.

(( This is in affect how Modern Stealth Technology works, by deflecting the energy onto other vectors and away from the target, as well as through the use of Radar absorbing material. For example, if you ever look at a picture of a F-117a Stealth you'll notice that it's covered with triangular angled panals to best deflect radar energy away. ))

All that being said, let's Imagine (look at the System from the side, directly along the X axis) that A is the Task Force being Attacked, B is the Attacking Force, and C is the SWACs craft patroling for the A Task Force. Presumably, the system behind the ships are clear, as they are making a transit across the system to another jump point.



....................................B-Approaching Task Force

In this kind of a situation, though the radar range of the SWACs craft is greater then that of the Carrier it would bein a better position to track and identify the incoming Task Force. Moden WAC craft call this "look down" radar, for obvious reasons. The SWACs, above and forward (or even just forward) has a better draw on the Radar Cross section of the approaching task force.

This assumes, obviously that WC Radar has some sort of 3D scan ability (which is must, obviously, since they're fighting in a 3D enviornment) and that is uses much the same methods of detection as modern radar (Again, I don't think this is to much of a stretch.

If both cases are true a forward "look down" radar would be incredibly useful.

In the same case as detailed above let's imagine for a moment that group B is approaching the Task Force head on (again in an attempt to minimize their radar signiture) and a few thousand klicks in front of them is a large ConFed Transport. The carrier in question picks up the Confed Transport...but because the transport, carrier, and attacking ships are all on the same plane, the Transport blocks the radar signiture for the other ships. Imagine also that instead of coming in behind a confed Transport they are coming in single file, and in front is say, a single destroyer. Confed picks up and details a single destroyer, sends up a small fighter escort and bomber group to destroy it, and a carrier and a whole wing of fighters pounce on the group that comes out to wipe out the presumed threat.

in both of these situations a Forward (or side, or rearward) "look down" or even "look up" Radar would be in a better position to detect these threats.

The argument has been made, rightfully, that SWACs craft would be expensive [American WAC Craft cost somewhere from 50 mil (Navy) to 170 Mil (Air Force) a piece
with the edge going to the Navy Version for greater range coverage (But smaller crew and monitoring gear]. This is true, probably to expensive to rish in open combat or dangreous situations. However, send and SWACs up with a group of say, four fighters and send it around on a patrol. It can cover the same distance as one or more groups of fighters in at least half the range/time.

(Surely your not going to argue that fighter craft have better radar then SWACs).

You've now protected the SWACs, in addition you've given the fighter early warning abilites about incoming attacks. Long before the fighters could ever reach the SWACs the SWACs would detect them (when normal fighters wouldn't).

By the way, just an interesting Side note, if Carrier/Craft radar is so good in WC, why do you spend so much time patroling space in WC? Even in "friendly" space or "non hostile" areas you always encounter something (I agree this is the design of the game, but I think it only suggest that Carrier Radar is lacking and limited in it's ability to detect forces in Space).

Also, anyone got an theories on what other kinds of detection methods (namely Passive) that Confed might use to pick up enemies? I had two, Heat Detection and Communications Detection. Heat and communication would be limited to speed of light, roughly, with the exception of Burst Transmission? I think?

Just dawned on me that Normal Radar like we're talking about is only useful at speed of light, which would mean only for close in support and uses. That doesn't matter to much on Earth, but when your trying to detect forces halfway cross the solar system it comes into play big time, I think almost necessitating the use of a SWACs craft, which can fly out and detect forces and radio back. Unless they figured out a way to speed up radar waves in the future. =P

I'd like to know what GeeBot and Slaweter thing about this, when they read it.
Smoore_500 said:
Firstly, I think the role of a CAG would work so long as the missions were interesting and changing, any rank above CAG might be boring if it's not micro-managed and micro-managing several carriers might be boring itself.

I think the game should be turn-based, in which case micromanagement wouldn't really be an issue unless you had to manage like, 100 carriers with 100 fighters and 10 escorts each... that'd be a bit much. I think turn-based will be a requirement, since real-time would require either that you're mentally capable of controlling multiple fighters at once, or having each fighter programmed with some basic AI routines (which are hard to get right).

As for the Star Wars Star Destroyer radar, some people think those geodesic domes on the top are sensors, not shield generators as portrayed in the X-Wing games (and I don't know where else, I'm not big on Star Wars).

Incidentally, about the stealth question: there's a reason why the stealth bomber (B-2) has such a freaking flat bottom. You'd think, whoa, major radar reflector, right? However, as it turns out, it's exactly the idea of reflecting the radar somewhere else. This doesn't work so well with bistatic radar (where the transmitter and receiver are separated--imagine shining a flashlight at a mirror at an angle, but looking from a position across from the flashlight). The idea with the F-117A's panels is to scatter the radar beams more widely; the Comanche, Raptor, and JSF are designed using more advanced versions of the software used to design the F-117As; basically, you get more aerodynamic surfaces than with the old software, which was only capable of the old, angular design.

As a side note, it's physically impossible to create an object that won't reflect radar strongly from every direction (RCS of 0). The problem is that between any two angles, you have every other possible angle... so between, say, a panel facing at 90 degrees and -90 degrees, you have a joint which has some small portion pointing straight back at the receiver (that's why stealth aircraft have large flat areas, and as few edges as possible). There's nothing special about a 60 degree angle, BTW: the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. An 80 degree angle would do about as well.

The Confederation probably has some sort of stealth system, be it active or passive. Cloaks are mentioned as a possibility, although they're apparently not effective against the Nephilim, and even in WC4 Confed has developed anti-cloak systems. The Hades-class cruisers (like the Cerberus) are rumored to have some sort of exotic jamming system, possibly a capital ship cloak (I know I certainly saw the Cerberus fade away on me a number of times in WCSO, but I think that was a bug in the engine :) ).

As for Z-axis fighting, actually there's a lot more of it in Wing Commander than, say, Star Trek. Waypoints are positioned in all sorts of positions relative to the XY plane given in the WCP radar map, for example.

The problem with sending an SWACS across the solar system is that the radio uses light speed communication as well (radar uses radio waves, hence the name). :) Even if there were an FTL communication system (not that there's ever any evidence for one), it's likely it could also be exploited for long range sensors. So you don't get any advantage in terms of speed; the major effect of long range radar is extended propagation delays, but you can certainly compensate for that for early warning purposes.

For example: if the enemy task force is approaching at 0.10c (well above the tactical speeds of WC ships, due to the drag of the fuel scoops), and your radar range is 900,000 km, or 3 light seconds, you'd still get a radar return before the enemy task force had closed from 900,000 km to 810,000 km (assuming active radar is already on, or using passive detection). Assuming their detection range is similar, they wouldn't even realize they were closing on you until the same instant you realize they're closing on you. Since if they're closing on you at 0.10c, you're closing on them at 0.10c, there's not really a reaction time advantage for either side, besides general readiness conditions. It's likely detection ranges would be a lot longer than 900,000 km, but I thought this would be a reasonable example to illustrate the main point: basically, if you're in range to hurt each other, the light speed delay isn't a major factor. Tactically, the delay is a bigger obstacle to coordinating between friendly fleets (due to the communication delay): widely separated fleets wouldn't be able to react very quickly to changes in the combat situation.

The reason why you patrol is for the same reason why you don't just park an SWACS next to the carrier (even assuming the SWACS had better radar), instead of sending out patrols: the sensor range, no matter how large, is finite, while space is infinite (not to mention debris like asteroid fields which disrupt LoS). Incidentally, at least in WCP, fighters are sent less often on patrols as on strike missions to blow up capships or escort other craft. To the contrary, we might deduce from the fact that the Midway CAP basically just hovers around the carrier that the carrier sensor range is extremely long, and it's better to keep the fighters in close, to be easily vectored to any destination, than keep them out in an extended bubble to try and extend the sensor range.

Communication detection is properly called electronic intelligence (ELINT), and there are a number of examples in WCP of Confed tapping into alien communications (although the science division seems to have trouble decoding them); ditto in the older game with the Kilrathi. Infrared (heat) detection falls in with optical systems, like telescopes. The main problem with optical systems is (1) as with any passive system, the target may not be radiating in the given band, (2) dust can obscure optical bands (not so much infrared), and (3) they tend to be more complicated and less reliably. Some of the advantages of optical are higher resolution (due to the shorter wavelength), and smaller detection equipment. An active variation on passive electro-optical sensors would be lidar, but it's doubtful you'd want to use lidar for anything except fire control.

However, that said, modern sensor systems do use a wide variety of sensor systems, integrated to get the best possible picture (although radar is the main standby, since it's all weather and highly refined). There's no real reason why Confed couldn't use a wide variety of sensor systems, including exotic things like tachyons or something. However, as far as we know, the physics of the situation wouldn't be much different from radar, and the rule of the inverse square law. From a tactical stand point, it really doesn't matter how you collect your signals.

I would think look-up would be more useful than look-down, assuming the horizon weren't a problem... the small matter of sea/ground clutter is a significant problem. During the Falklands War, the British were taken by surprise by a pair of Argentinian fighters flying about 30 m above the waves, leading to the loss of the HMS Sheffield.

Still, having separated sensor platforms is a definite advantage, since you can use triangulation to get position fixes with only passive systems (you can do so with systems on the same ship, of course, but the longest baseline helps). Separation also helps improve the general accuracy of sensor fixes. However, separation doesn't actually do anything for early warning applications, which I would assume would be the main (defensive) purpose of carrier sensors: if you detect something out there, you detect something out there, and it's time to go to red alert. Also, the farther the contact, the longer the baseline you need for a given technology base. In the end, there probably would be little advantage to separating your fleet elements too widely, due to communication delays (which would affect how quickly you could correlate the sensor returns) and the loss in concentration of firepower.

Incidentally, protecting your SWACS with 4 fighters doesn't do you much good if the enemy comes at you with 8 fighters. Assuming equal capabilities on each side, even a minor numerical advantage would be enough to overcome the defenders. In WCP, the SWACS was used to make a probing sweep of a large volume of space; it'd probably be a little foolhardy to send it out routinely with every attack.

As for the inferiority of fighter radars, I imagine with improvements in technology fighters might have some pretty good sensors--in fact, fighter sensors are one of the few things we do know anything about, since in the games we're equipped with one. The basic point, though, is that you don't need to have the best sensors to carry out an attack (especially when you have backup at a safe distance away), just enough to get your ordinance on target. Which, when you get right down to it, is the ultimate mission of the fleet: to deliver steel on target.
strike warfare

Have you considered strike warfare missions as part of the game. it might be fun to send your wing on a strike mission against several strategic targets across a planet or system. The missions don't have to just be recon, and anti-ship operations.
First of all, there is evidence of faster then light transmissions in WC, they're called burst transmission, and they have to travel faster then light, because we see them arriving all across the WC "Universe" in a matter of minutes rather then a matter of a few thousand years.

That being said, if you were going to deploy a WAC craft you would obviously want it equipped with a burst transmitter for tranmission back to the carriers (which also carry burst transmitters/receivers, by the way).

The look down/look up aspect of the radar was mentioned as possible uses in space to get a better look at an incoming or outgoing force.

I haven't played Prophecy, not out of any will not to but simply because Wing Commander to me will always be about fighting the Kilrathi.

Just as you said in one of your earlier posts, war in space comes down a sensor war, "submarines in space" I think you called it.

THAT being said, early detecting and warning holds the key to victory in any fleet action. If you know where the other side is, or where they are going to be you have the avantage.

This is not possible without and SWACs. Exactly as you said in your above post with radar limited to speed of light the only ranges for Radar to be of any use are ranges where each fleet is mutually detecting the other. That assumes they found each other and manuvered towards each other in the first place, and didn't just blunder into each other through sheer chance. And with space being as infinite as it is, blundering into an enemy task force by "sheer chance" is pretty rare unless your at a jump point, and the opposing task force isn't trying to hide.

But let's say you arrive in a system and you don't know what's there, or best case, you know whats there, but not where it is right now. How do you find it? Run your carrier in a search grid all over the whole map because it has the best possible radar? I don't think so. Launch a WAC craft? You seem to think it's to expensive, wouldn't do enough good, and doesn't have the right communications gear.

So instead we leave the carrier to blunde across the system until each fleet detects the other, given them as much time to prepare as you have. Maybe they're faster loading their missiles, maybe they're ships close range quicker, maybe they don't have their fighters scattered across the solar system hunting for your capships because they have WAC craft doing that same job. What it comes down to at that point is these two things:

1) Whose plane crews are faster
2) Whose ships are faster

I'm sure that Captain's have every confidence in their ships and crews, but wouldn't it be better to strike the enemy ship (be it carrier [most likely] or not) without the carrier having that added benefit of first detection?

I draw you attention again to the limits of carrier borne radar. Not only does it travel at the speed of light, but it has a severally limited range because of such a handicap. In a sensor war where early detection is critical it's necessary to detect the enemy first, not at the same time, and to keep your own ships and assets hidden from him long enough to wage war.

I have to get to class, but I'll be back to update when I'm done. I have more to say about the angle and directivity of radar signals.

Lemme say though, I think after reading everything we've said that radar as we know it today is not the same at all as radar in Wing Commander. They must have something better, not because it's the future, but because it's necessary to the kind of operations they are performing.
Actual flat size has little to do with a radar cross section. The issue in question is directivity.

When a Radar beam strikes a flat surface at 90 degrees, about 80-90% of it's radar energy is reflected straight back at the target. If we change that angle so that it impacts instead at 80 degrees, 97% of the Radar energy is reflected AWAY from the target. If the radar beam strikes at 60 degrees exactly we see better the 99.9 (I just don't wanna list the decimal places) of the radare nergy reflected away from the radar beam.

This assumes, correctly, that the receiver/transmitter are stored in two differant locations.

This would not be the case with the SWACs. But now let's take into account another set of circumstances. A carrier and her escorts are charging straight at another carrier and her escorts. The radar beam in question travels out and impacts the front of the ship at 90 degrees and returns straight back toward the target. What if, instead of charging straight in at the carrier, you altered your approach so that the beam strike at 60 degrees, and 99.9% of the radar energy was reflected away from the receiver? You've just become more stealthy and bought yourself a few more minutes to close with the enemy, five more minutes for you to prepare and five less minutes for the enemy to prepare.

Granted that carriers are NOT stealthy craft to begin with, but this can apply to fighters and bombers as well, and directivity has the most affect on Radar Cross sections.

That's all I have to say, for now.
Warships and stealth

Ok agreed in terms of RCS nothing can be really really stealthy if its as big as a carrier but look at stealth from a different perspective for a minute. Stealth on space vessels isn't just a factor of RCS. Electromagnetic emmisions (radar, communications), engine radiation, infra-red signatures, things that can be picked up passivly, all play into makeing a ship detectable or stealthy and that should be factored in when looking at the stealth chariteristics of warships.

just my two cents
The WC communication system uses a system of communication buoys placed at the jump points. Communications are relayed at light speed from buoy to buoy within a system, then instantly transmitted through the jump point. The buoys also double as navigational markers, so ships don't jump into each other and interpenetrate (causing nasty explosions).

I'm not sure how canon that explanation is, but we know for sure that there's nothing like a "burst" transmission mode that can magically broadcast across the galaxy. We see repeatedly in the novels situations where ships on the opposite side of a jump point are unable to communicate (although Forstchen at one point invents the laughable idea of a Black Lance eavesdropping installation that can pick up communications several systems away). Messages have to be passed physically by courier ships or drones.

Conventionally, burst transmissions just refer to communications which are compressed into a burst which is transmitted at high speed. The basic idea is used to reduce detection, not to somehow magically increase the speed of light.

I believe the WCP manual may have some evidence for an FTL communication relay network, but it's been some time since I've read it. In any case, such transmissions are focused into beams between relay stations, and as far as we know, aren't used in a broadcast capacity.

We know after the destruction of the TCS Deveraux in the WCP introduction that it sends out an emergency distress drone. I'm not sure what happens to it, although I think maybe it gets picked up later by the Midway. In the WC movie, Pegasus base sends off an emergency drone to Tolwyn--not some magical FTL communication. I believe in the books, there are several instances of communications being composed for drone transmission. Also, in WC4, the time delay between the "Tolwyn communiques" would lead one to believe that the communication lag between the Lexington and Jupiter-1 is considerable.

The problem with SWACS is that they move at speeds considerably less than that of light. Given virtually unlimited radar range, it'd be much faster to send out an active radar pulse and wait for it to come back than to send out an SWACS sweeping through space. Passive radar would work twice as fast as active radar. Put plainly, an SWACS can't win a race with a photon.

To take a few lessons from history (the battleship engagements in WW I, and the Pacific War in WW 2), decisive naval actions with big fleets slugging it out have almost never happened. Just like we're talking about right now, the problem of finding your highly mobile enemy usually makes the exercise pointless. Instead of directly taking on the enemy, you're forced to target other objectives, like the enemy merchant fleet or their land-based assets.

Similarly, it's likely that in space, combat will concentrate around objectives other than the enemy fleet. Combat actions (not all of them involving fleet battles) will tend to place at jump points, the routes between jump points, and at planets, major space stations, and other points of interests. In which case, it's not a matter of blundering into each other at random, but a matter of accomplishing the mission objective, while being fully prepared to defeat any enemy forces that might be in the way. A carrier task force, with the firepower to go toe-to-toe with the enemy, or withdraw in the event of overwhelming enemy forces, is much better suited to actually accomplishing such a mission than a detached group of fighters flying with an SWACS. Remember the lessons of the battlecruiser.

Keep in mind, though, I never denied that SWACS could have a valuable role in conducting recon. While I would tend to think that a sufficient number of fighter patrols could get the job done faster with a reasonable amount of sensor coverage (basically, if your advance elements don't run into any capships, it's probably safe), I'm sure there'd be situations where you'd want to use the slower but more comprehensive SWACS option. For early warning applications, though, I see pretty much no advantage over carrier-based radar--the engagement ranges simply wouldn't be short enough.

Incidentally, the speed of a radar signal has nothing to do with its range--it's all about power, and without question, a carrier can put out a higher power signal than any SWACS ever could. As I mentioned in my example, even if you have to wait 6 seconds for a signal to bounce back and forth, you're still given plenty of warning. If you boost the power by 4 times and double the range, it takes 12 seconds and you get even more advanced warning--the "lateness" of the sensor return doesn't matter in early warning applications, and as the range closes obviously the time delay also drops. As long as ships travel much slower than, say, 50% of light speed (and they clearly do), there isn't a problem.

If you change the angle on a flat target by even 1 degree, the RCS effectively drops to 0. It's in the US Navy EW manual you've been hugging (4-11.2), if you won't take my word for it. When the target is straight on, assuming a perfect reflector (actual figures are usually closer to 70%), 100% of the energy is returned straight back to the receiver. If you tilt it by X degrees, it's reflected away at a 2X degree angle. At very close ranges, your receiver is probably large enough to catch that radiation, but at anything approaching a reasonable distance, 100% of the radar energy misses your receiver and gets beamed off into never-never land. Most targets aren't perfectly flat, so you get some diffuse reflections, but the general principle still holds.

Most radar installations are monostatic; the receiver and transmitter dishes are usually the same. Even with a bistatic installation, the problem is still about coverage--the flat target needs to be perfectly lined up with both antennas. Imagine shining a laser or flashlight into a mirror for an analogy.

Now, this would seem to imply that the perfect stealth aircraft should be a flat plate (although then you have the rather distressing situation when you present the flat side to the enemy radar--not good). The B-2 approximates a flat plate to a rather high degree. The various stealth fighters also use flat surfaces to get similar benefits. The problem is that the joints between the various panels reflect in many different directions, appreciably increasing the RCS. Stealth aircraft manage to reduce the RCS to a low level, but it's not perfect. And such measures are useless against PCL systems which highlight stealth craft against background radiation, since stealth aircraft, just like regular aircraft, aren't radar transparent.

To address the anonymous poster's comments, it's completely true that whether or not you detect your opposition isn't merely a matter of the RCS; RCS is only relevant to active radar returns. You definitely wouldn't use active radar for early warning (unless you were under attack and couldn't detect the enemy otherwise), as active radars can be detected passively at something like 2x the range as they can detect (assuming equal detector sensitivity). The general principle of a target having a certain detectability level still holds, however. For a game, you definitely wouldn't model all the individual factors, but would calculate some sort of visibility function which would govern when an enemy target could be picked up or not.
-WC detection systems on fighters seem to see all enemies from the Gratha to the flat Dralthi equally well
-A/SWACS mount capship radar on a cheap, vulnerable mobile platform
-Radars are detectable by the energy they put out long before the energy will reflect strongly enough to be seen by the emitter. Smaller radars have a smaller "detectable" radius as well as a smaller "detection" radius.
-Torpedos in the WC universe have a far lesser range than radar. CSMs probably ditto.

-WC detection systems may not be radar. Please post if there is proof that radar is used. In Fleet Action there was definitely some sort of high-resolution scan, possibly with the word "subspace" attached.
-If you dont want to be seen, you turn your radar off.
-If you want good extended sensor coverage but dont wish to give away the location of your capships, use A/SWACS. If you want more coverage, use more A/SWACS.
-If you dont want to be seen easily, send out fighter patrols to sweep through the area you are interested in and control the electronic emissions you put out. It takes a lot of fighters to cover an area, but they can often kill anything they know is there which keeps your presence less known.
-Weapon control from A/SWACS is not impossible but probably not practical in the WCU

-In WC1/2 you were running a lot of close-range patrols against unidentified bogies that were generally within 50,000 kilometers of the mothership. This may indicate range of active/passive sensors dependent on context.
-WC3 (and to a lesser extent 4) had far more longrange sweeps, indicating a more defensive, stealthy posture.
-WCP/SO use SWACs a good amount. You want information but you dont want to shout "Im over here!"
-"Real World" radar rules probably dont apply to the WCU
-AWACs might simply be recievers or emitters to extend active radar's range from its capship base?
-the big advantage of modern AWACS - over-the-horizon radar - is irrelevant in space. Corvettes are considerably tougher and capships can mount huge arrays, and if you do not wish to be detected fighter patrols are far preferable. I see little middle ground unless you are in an extremely defensive stance where sacrificing the ELINT range of an AWACS for the stealthiness of a fighter patrol is not an advantage.
-The Midway is big enough that the SWACS craft it carries are effectivly corvettes. Highly unlikely but worth consideration on the R+D/specialized craft end. If Psych could give opinion here I'd be grateful.
-Is it possible for huge carriers to transport corvette-level craft?

-Public transportation schedules mean I leave now.
I think that was a pretty good summary of the pros and cons. As for whether or not Confed uses radar, they refer to it several times as radar, at least in WC4 (I was going through the DVD while I was measuring turnrates). At one point, they talk about how Confed has an electronic moat around a facility with a radar that would pick up an attack and send off a distress signal. Whether or not you can say they're talking about real radar, or just using the term generically, can be debated. I suppose more definite proof is needed.

In WC3, the missions overall were more stealthy, most because Confed was losing the war. The Victory's objectives were more along the lines of skulk along this jump line or that, blowing up Kilrathi patrols until you get into striking distance, then cue Tolwyn and the end game. At least IMHO, the missions in WC1/WC2 were more along the lines of "fly around and get attacked by Kilrathi so you can wipe them out", which is arguably a more offensive stance.

I'm not really sure what you mean by "real world" radar rules not applying in the WC universe, but I don't really see any contradiction with what we know now. We just simply don't know enough to be sure how everything works in a quantitative sense.

Can huge carriers serve as corvette-carriers? Sure, I guess. The Diligent lands on the Tiger Claw in the WC movie, and it's a fairly large transport, probably about corvette-sized. However, the space requirements would probably make that non-sensical in most situations. External docking would seem to make more sense (this is shown in WCA TV at the least), and we know that corvette-sized ships usually carry jump drives from innumerable sources (Privateer, WCA TV, etc.), so a carrier wouldn't really be needed.
What Wing Commander uses isn't and can't actually be RADAR... it isn't even particularly debatable.
Believe it or not, I had the same idea many years ago when i first played Harpoon. I was thinking that perhaps the player would be better suited to a role more like an Admiral, where individual capital ships can be controlled as well as the fighter wing. The ship and aircraft management gameplay in Harpoon would be perfectly suited for a Wing Commander game. If you can pull this off, I will worship you.
There was a game for Sega that I used to play called PTO, it had you playing as a fleet commander, who was given a certain amount of recourses every year. The game was turned based.
You could have a war game where you are a task force commander that issues orders to ships in your task force and they accomplish them. The strategic part of the game could be turn based, like the Total War games, where the tactical combat could be done real time, with you issuing strike orders, telling your ships to maintain a offensive defensive state etc. etc.
A three dimensional playing field would be nice, but you can do little tricks to fool the player, like Star Wars: Rebellion, where you mostly fought on a two dimensional plane that was appeared to be 3D.
Of course combat would have to be mostly fighter strikes and patrols, so that could also be done turn based, and when your fighters that are on a lets say 3 point patrol route encounters an enemy in the same area it would switch to the tactial console where you could manage the combat.
There are times when I wished I would have learned how to create programs and write code, so I could bring reality to what I see.
Hell I wish I had LOTS of money so I could hire them to make games I wanted, even if they didn't make money, just for my (and of course your) enjoyment.
You can still learn to program (it's not terribly hard to put together spaghetti code, although it's hard to put together good code), although making all the various components is probably going to be more difficult than a beginning programmer can figure out.
here's an update on the game so far, which I've renamed WC: Fleet Admiral (Space Marshal sounded too far up the chain of command):

- I'm starting in WCP, & here's the data I've entered

confed--------most------most--------some----pelican, midway
kilrathi---------all --------all-------------all-----------none

- guns work - only attack targets within range - fire as many times as possible
- guided and unguided missiles work, FFs reacquire new targets, HS only locks onto rear of targets
- gun & missile turrets work independently of their carriers
- fighters can follow waypoints, intercept targets, share radar coverage*, have pilots
- pilots can give fighters bonuses, eject
- map redraws & combat updates can be paused, restarted, & changed in frequency
- you can see 3 maps at once, & scroll each

* - basically, if any confed object can detect a kilrathi fighter, all confed objects will attack it - turrets only attack targets their base can see

still to come:
- bombers & torpedoes
- carriers
- capital ship combat
- wings & formations

one question:
I'm doing capships so that their core is the sum of their bridge and engines, their front shields are bridge strength, and their rear shields are 1 engine's strength - for example, a midway has 6000 core, 2000/2000 shields

- this way, fighters can destroy them -

how fast should they recharge, though?