Best Stealth Transport

Shadow Reaper

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I'm not a transport pilot kinda guy, but someone here grabbed my interest the other day when talking about using the Carrack to fly transport. That made me wonder if I were to keep a cargo ship just for single player time to keep my cash supply up, what would I fly? This began an investigation I thought I should share, about what makes the best "stealth transport'.

I love the stealth dynamic so that's my baseline. There are no large nor cap class stealth components, and small is too small for flying cargo, so I limited myself to looking at medium and large ships using medium components and found only six to compare: the Connie, the Freelancer Max, the Tally Base, the Hull B, the MSR and the future Corsair. That's a pretty good selection for such a niche role. However, first thing I found was I could rule out three of these without much analysis.

The Lancer and the Hull B each have only one medium reactor. If you're not aware, what that means is they cannot be "fully" stealthed. There are no stealth reactors that put out enough power to operate a medium or large ship with two military shields. The Cutty is exceptional here since it only has one medium shield, but regardless; that's not for me. If you have the balls to fly a ship with no weapons or shields all the time, or are okay with very mediocre shields; you might like to look deeper into both the Hull B or the Lancer Max. You also might like to look at leaving the shields on, and choose stealth shields. If that's for you, have at but even stealth shields ruin your stealth signature so I always design to turn them off in blackout mode.

Next I took the Tally off my list. Though she shows great promise in many roles, she has no guns or missiles for the pilot to access, and that just doesn't seem like it would be fun for me to fly. Again, perhaps you think differently, and sneaking past other players in stealth turns you on so much you're willing to go sans weapons and shields. If so, you'll also want to look at the Tally.

This left me with just three to compare, or actually four. There's the MSR, the Corsair which we know little about, and the two suitable versions of the Conny: the Andromeda and the Taurus. I still have not seen figures for cargo space on the Taurus, but it deserves a mention here. This left me only two ships to run through erkul--the Andromeda and the Star Runner. So what was the result?

All four have identical scoops, tanks, and drives options. Outfitted with my standard choice of all ballistics gattlings, FR-76's, stealth Q Drive, all weapons and shields overclocked, two pair Eclipse and Nightfall, the results of the blackout test were startlingly different. When I say "blackout" what I mean is the optimal stealth condition where everything is turned off except one reactor and one cooler, both not overclocked. This is the quietest way you can sneak across a system and unless someone pings, and until batteries or capacitors are enabled in game (still no jury on this), you have a chance of flying right by most players. What I found was the Andromeda has an EM sig of 302, which is quite good for such a large ship, but that the MSR has an EM sig of a tiny 191. FYI, anything approaching 200 is amongst the best stealth ships in the Verse. The MSR has a stealth box around its reactors!

Now there are other things to compare, and sub-rolls within the stealth transport role to consider. Do you want to play pirate and use the transport to ambush and steal booty? If so the guns matter, but the missiles matter even more since they can be fired from blackout condition. That gives the advantage to the Andromeda. Do you just want to move cargo? If so, the Taurus will likely have the best cargo capacity and still has those awesome pilot controlled guns. Do you want to move a mix of cargo and data? Obviously the MSR is your choice. Do you need to be able to fight? The Corsair has planned the best pilot controlled weapons selection of any ship yet revealed. Which would I choose?

I still dunno, but that MSR is awful sexy. I suspect though, if the only reason I was flying a stealth transport was to earn in game cash, and was not involved in things like Vanduul looting raids or some such; that I would choose the Taurus just because she likely carries the most cargo. We'll have to wait and see. If my Sentinels needed a cargo hold to put purloined Vanduul plasma weapons in, I'd pair the MSR with them just because she is stealthy enough, and fast enough, to keep up with the Sentinels.

I dunno. If anyone knows what the Taurus is rumored to carry, please post here. Knowledge of this would make this selection far easier.

Finally, there is one, rogue player in this group to consider, for one subset of the stealth cargo ship. In the case of pairing a cargo ship with Sentinels for looting, which was not my original interest but I thought I would mention this. There is one other possible option to look forward to new detail on--the Apollo.

Yeah, you rightly note she doesn't have medium reactors so she can't be stealthed. Maybe. Maybe not.

Apollo advocates rightly note she's basically a chopped Conny. So how is it she needs more power than a Connie?

I dunno, but i am still hoping this is a mistake on the ships page, and that she'll actually come with 2 medium reactors. If that happens, her cargo is still quite small, so not best for transport to make money, but as a utility craft to a set of Sentinels she could shine. It's that large radar array. . .on a medium ship. If it turns out the Apollo can be stealthed, I think that could place her into this consideration of stealth transports.
 
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Vavrik

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I've been flying a lot of cargo runs lately, and for me the MSR is the go-to ship. It has speed and you can at least fire back when you're alone. Currently in game, nothing really has stealth - hopefully that changes as they increase player count. I own a Max, but it's too slow and 114 SCU for the MSR cargo vs 120 for the Max doesn't make a big enough difference. The Connie's are all too slow, and 96 SCU cargo isn't tickling me compared with the MSR either. I expect this to change, but no idea if that's going to make it worth it yet.

I have a Carrack, but flying that for cargo is a little bit out of role, and the pilot has no weapons. It is fast and fun to fly though. I fly the Cat too, but it's slow and pilot visibility is terrible. Right now I'm kind of interested in the C2/M2 and A2 when they get into the game, but I don't think any of those will change my mind about the MSR. The C2 might, we'll see.
 

Han Burgundy

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*Speculation Warning*

Okay, I'm about to speculate a lot on coming functionality here, but I beleive it falls in line with their current plans. I think the MSR is the way to go for one central reason; CPU rack/blade space. CIG have stated before that your ship's CPU racks are what will be used to insert system upgrades such as AI remote turrets, automated countermeasure deployment, smart fire suppression systems, ect. If your aim is to fly solo, I wouldn't be surprised if you could automate both turrets and insert a few systems management blades to become quite formidable on your own (Almost as if you had a crew) That's what I'm hoping for, anyways. And sometimes stealth means blending in ...but with a hidden secret (So many drugs under the floorboards. SO many.)
 

Shadow Reaper

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. . .Currently in game, nothing really has stealth. . .
I have heard that many times over the years and through many patches, but each time I have checked what I have found is that stealth does work, just not as players expected.

Certainly there are many vids of Sabres and Arrows simply disappearing during combat, and of players unable to get locks on Arrows. What is missing are careful studies of how the dynamic works, but I can understand no one wants to so invest themselves when we know everything will change when sensors and EM warfare come in game. However, there have been some pretty good studies and they're worth understanding.

You can indeed stealth your ship and sneak about. The stealth button reduces IR at the expense of power and some EM, so designing a low EM ship is still the primary way to approach stealth. If you use the stealth components, you'll be much harder to see, most of the time. (In combat, it could turn out the best way to blink in and out of an opponent's sensors is with Industrial rather than Stealth coolers.*) The issue is really that players don't choose stealth components because they pale by comparison to military, and that players often telegraph their presence with hot burns, afterburns, etc. The IR will normally be the larger sig, so the one to watch, and the one that deceases much more slowly over time. Flying soft with little throttle, cool weapons firing seldom, etc., is the only way to get a real stealth sig. If you're burning hot throttle there is nothing going to make you stealthy. I think this is why many players think the dynamic doesn't work. However, if you're flying small throttle, with some systems off, and have stealth components, you can drift right by other players without them knowing you are there.

I believe but have not confirmed that the data here on how stealth works is still accurate. See especially the vid between time index 1m and 2m and note again, the stealth switch reduces IR at the cost of power and EM. So choosing low EM stealth components,and flying with as little engine, shooting, etc. as possible is the way to reduce the radius from which you can be detected.

Note that at present, the sensors for EM and IR are all the same and grouped by size with the radar. This is the thing that is likely to grow more complex in the future. It appears we'll have some choice to boost sensitivity to EM or IR based upon sensor choice. If that is true, it will still be necessary to understand all of the above to use stealth. The point is, stealth is HARD to understand and use, and will cost you combat capability, but it also provides you with opportunities you otherwise would not have to see and not be seen, to have the first strike and to evade and escape in combat.

*If you design primarily against IR so that you are stealthed while in combat, that is a different build than stealthed with systems off. In combat, your IR will almost always be much larger than your EM, so even though choosing Industrial coolers will give you a larger EM, that is not the spec that opponent sensors are watching. So if you are curious how Arrows can fly without getting locked, it's because the one of the two specs was too low for the opponent to lock missiles. If you're curious how Arrows and Sabres simply disappear on radar, it's because a pair of UltraFlow coolers dumps IR so fast that the signature that is tracking them diminishes so quickly during combat.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgYXkFTnG0
 
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Lorddarthvik

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It's good to see some confirmation that the MSR can be stealthy. It's supposed to be one of the go-to ships for smuggling according to how cig presented it, so it damn well have good stealth lol
I'd rather have less profits and less stress due to better stealth, so the Taurus is out for me. Also, just look at em lol
 

Ayeteeone

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Second part of that video where some corrections are made.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mz0HjY4UoTA


There have been bug fixes since 3.10. Very specifically, Surpress IR works against opponent radars. Yes, I have tested this extensively and use it when flying stealth. It is very easy to demonstrate, especially against AI.

Under current game mechanics, the larger of either IR or EM is what is detected by the opponents sensors. EDIT: Erkul doesn't show IR values, which act very different from EM in game.

EM is highly controllable based on fit.
IR is to a great degree determined by the ship values.
Cross section does not seem to be testable in any meaningful way as yet, but is in use for missiles.

The bottom line is, HOW NOISY IS YOUR SHIP? Period. Until the upcoming changes (in 3.14 maybe?) this is the limiter.
We've not been told what the changes are that are coming (beyond greater range) and eventually environmental factors (such as gas clouds) will impact these numbers.

I've empirically tested 30+ small and medium ships and the stealthiest transport is the MAX. The Freelancers are advertised as having low signature components, and it seems to be true. The engines make less noise than most smaller craft. When fully fit with medium stealth grade A it's signature levels, with everything ON, functioning and having time to cool, are ~1600 EM, ~2400 IR. As it stands, against another medium radar that puts the detection range at 1800 meters.. well inside the range of most size 3 weapons worth putting on it.

PING at this point in the game can ruin a stealth approach. But so few think to use it that it is rarely a concern.

@Shadow Reaper one thought I'd add, is that there is a distinct difference in the spin up times of stealth shields vs all the others. They are very fast to hit their max, and recover very quickly after taking a hit. Military are not bad in this regard, but you utterly throw away any semblance of stealth once you power them on.. it's like switching on a floodlight.

As to performance - my go-to moneymaker is the Claimjumper missions. 3 grade A stealth shields on a Sabre or 2 on a Freelancer easily handle those mistakes where a turret gets a good hit. The benefit is, with careful piloting, you can destroy them before they know you are in the same space. There is a LOT more to this line of thought, perhaps it would be worth making a separate post on the topic. A stealth fit Sentinel can become a long range sniper, although the weapons currently available leave something to be desired. When the size 5 weapon lines are filled out there is potential to create fear with this ship.

Running powered down is valid, and I am convinced will have applications in the game. But for day to day running where you just want to haul, a MAX running Stealth A is simply as quiet as you can go while maintaining a valid defense.
 
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Shadow Reaper

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I've empirically tested 30+ small and medium ships and the stealthiest transport is the MAX. The Freelancers are advertised as having low signature components, and it seems to be true. The engines make less noise than most smaller craft. When fully fit with medium stealth grade A it's signature levels, with everything ON, functioning and having time to cool, are ~1600 EM, ~2400 IR. As it stands, against another medium radar that puts the detection range at 1800 meters.. well inside the range of most size 3 weapons worth putting on it.
I dunno why I thought one stealth reactor unable to power the Lancer properly, but I stand corrected. Looks just fine.

one thought I'd add, is that there is a distinct difference in the spin up times of stealth shields vs all the others. They are very fast to hit their max, and recover very quickly after taking a hit. Military are not bad in this regard, but you utterly throw away any semblance of stealth once you power them on.. it's like switching on a floodlight.
Yes, absolutely. I just finished explaining a Sabre stealth build to a friend who recently purchased one, and noted that you can't fly the FR-66 shields and expect to be in stealth. Maybe you can verify my position on the build and whether the crappy laser cannons are necessary to disappear in battle. Here's what I wrote:

------------------------------------------------------------------------

So this is a stealth Sabre. I certainly won't think you wrong to build a standard, hot flying Sabre. That's what 99% of pilots do and that might be the way to start, in which case you'll want those FR-66 shields, and probably 4 Mantis ballistic gattling. However, if you want to optimize the stealth feature and fly in combat using stealth, this is probably a good start:


1) Crappy FR-33 laser cannons--no one would fly them who wasn't looking to disappear in combat. They are low EM and IR. You can overclock these and still have low enough EM to disappear.

2) Crappy Mirage shields--no one would fly these who didn't want to disappear in combat. They're better than the stealth shields that come with the Sabre and provide more protection, faster refresh and draw less power than the crappier stock shields. They are however much less protection than the non-stealth FR-66. If you fly the latter you will not be flying in stealth at all. This is your biggest single difference between stealth and non-stealth builds.

3) Stealth powerplant upgrade is from SonicLite to Slipstream. This is an unnecessary upgrade since the Sonics can manage this build with all shields and weapons overclocked, without overclocking the reactors, but the fact is the slipstreams perform better in EVERY spec. Less EM, less IR, more power, less down time if knocked out by distortion, more health before it is knocked out, etc. There are a lot of stats, and the Slipstream has no down side. You will have more power than you need with a lower signature, but this is not your first upgrade necessary.

4) Ultraflow coolers--have a host of complex trades but it comes down to this: if you want to disappear in combat, you have to knock your IR down as quickly as possible. As soon as you burn and turn, your ship lights up hot with IR and that is the spec others will track. To kill that you make choices that generate less heat and remove it ASAP. the Ultra-Flows remove heat the fastest of any cooler. Even though stealth coolers have lower EM generation, IR is the one that matters most in combat. Recall as the vid at top informs us, sensors track the larger signal, EM or IR and in combat IR is always higher.

5) The stock drive is fine, but if you want shorter jump times the Specter is better.

If you don't want to worry about the stealth part of the Sabre at present, that's fine too. Most players do not use the Sabre's stealth features at all. Note though, down in the lower left hand corner of the erkul calculator, what it says about your hull. You have -20% EM, IR and RCS. I'm pretty sure that is higher than any other ship save the Eclipse and the Prowler, which are both 30%. The Ghost Hornet is only 10%, so the standard Sabre really is designed for stealth.
 
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Vavrik

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You're convincing me that I should upgrade either my Hawk or my Cutlass Black (both ships I don't fly anymore) to a Saber.
 

Ayeteeone

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I dunno why I thought one stealth reactor unable to power the Lancer properly, but I stand corrected. Looks just fine.

Yes, absolutely. I just finished explaining a Sabre stealth build to a friend who recently purchased one, and noted that you can't fly the FR-66 shields and expect to be in stealth. Maybe you can verify my position on the build and whether the crappy laser cannons are necessary to disappear in battle. Here's what I wrote:

------------------------------------------------------------------------

So this is a stealth Sabre. I certainly won't think you wrong to build a standard, hot flying Sabre. That's what 99% of pilots do and that might be the way to start, in which case you'll want those FR-66 shields, and probably 4 Mantis ballistic gattling. However, if you want to optimize the stealth feature and fly in combat using stealth, this is probably a good start:


1) Crappy FR-33 laser cannons--no one would fly them who wasn't looking to disappear in combat. They are low EM and IR. You can overclock these and still have low enough EM to disappear.

2) Crappy Mirage shields--no one would fly these who didn't want to disappear in combat. They're better than the stealth shields that come with the Sabre and provide more protection, faster refresh and draw less power than the crappier stock shields. They are however much less protection than the non-stealth FR-66. If you fly the latter you will not be flying in stealth at all. This is your biggest single difference between stealth and non-stealth builds.

3) Stealth powerplant upgrade is from SonicLite to Slipstream. This is an unnecessary upgrade since the Sonics can manage this build with all shields and weapons overclocked, without overclocking the reactors, but the fact is the slipstreams perform better in EVERY spec. Less EM, less IR, more power, less down time if knocked out by distortion, more health before it is knocked out, etc. There are a lot of stats, and the Slipstream has no down side. You will have more power than you need with a lower signature, but this is not your first upgrade necessary.

4) Ultraflow coolers--have a host of complex trades but it comes down to this: if you want to disappear in combat, you have to knock your IR down as quickly as possible. As soon as you burn and turn, your ship lights up hot with IR and that is the spec others will track. To kill that you make choices that generate less heat and remove it ASAP. the Ultra-Flows remove heat the fastest of any cooler. Even though stealth coolers have lower EM generation, IR is the one that matters most in combat. Recall as the vid at top informs us, sensors track the larger signal, EM or IR and in combat IR is always higher.

5) The stock drive is fine, but if you want shorter jump times the Specter is better.

If you don't want to worry about the stealth part of the Sabre at present, that's fine too. Most players do not use the Sabre's stealth features at all. Note though, down in the lower left hand corner of the erkul calculator, what it says about your hull. You have -20% EM, IR and RCS. I'm pretty sure that is higher than any other ship save the Eclipse and the Prowler, which are both 30%. The Ghost Hornet is only 10%, so the standard Sabre really is designed for stealth.

That is an interesting build, although not something I've tried. But I can contribute some thoughts and experiences.

1) FL-33's work fine on a MIS doing PvE. They spike both EM and IR quite high when fired, but because they have such long range if the pilot minds the graphs you can manually moderate the fire rate to stay under the detection envelope. I would not remotely consider them for PvP, nor ANY laser cannon unless a high alpha is the expected fighting style. I use and recommend the GT-870's for stealth ops at range.. if the goal is just to sneak up and cut loose then whatever.. extended bursts from any weapon will exceed the thresholds and that's where the coolers come into play.

2) Mirage aren't crappy at all. But they aren't the best for absorbing large amounts of damage in a short time. To a very large degree, their usefulness depend on the pilot. If you 'agility tank' the Mirages are your best friend. If you plod.. get a Mil fit MIS or Vanguard. Spreadsheet values here cannot reflect pilot skills or flying style.

3) Agreed, there are no downsides to the Slipstreams. They meet and exceed needs, and nothing is quieter.

4) Coolers.. well, this is an area where opinion gets muddled with facts, mainly because there aren't a lot of facts. Cooling rates have an impact, especially if you are burst firing. But how MUCH heat you are getting rid of matters too. Guns that don't exceed the thresholds can go full Stealth A.
For PvP, I'd have to do some return-time-to-baseline tests with the Ultraflow's vs the stealth units using a number of different weapons.. an interesting point not fully explored yet. Those results would need balanced against the signature impact for the desired play. Bottom line, If you are making lots of heat from firing weapons, probably any min/maxing here will help at least a little bit.

TLDR:
What works depends as much on the pilot and playstyle as it does on the game pieces. Which is one of the reasons I love this game.
 

Ayeteeone

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You're convincing me that I should upgrade either my Hawk or my Cutlass Black (both ships I don't fly anymore) to a Saber.
Actually, a Stealth A fit Hawk is a Beast of a stalker. Take a look at it in Erkul, but then get in the game, fit it, fly it enough for the game engine to 'let it cool' then go sneak around. Bounty missions get boring when the target doesn't realize you are there.

Trade-off's - using EMP becomes quite difficult, and weapon ranges are edgy vs detection ranges. But you will see them before they see you, and that makes all the difference.
 

BUTUZ

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My Freelancer MIS with the Black skin on. Going dark still with 30 missiles tho :D
 

Shadow Reaper

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FL-33's work fine on a MIS doing PvE. They spike both EM and IR quite high when fired, but because they have such long range if the pilot minds the graphs you can manually moderate the fire rate to stay under the detection envelope. I would not remotely consider them for PvP, nor ANY laser cannon unless a high alpha is the expected fighting style. I use and recommend the GT-870's for stealth ops at range.. if the goal is just to sneak up and cut loose then whatever.. extended bursts from any weapon will exceed the thresholds and that's where the coolers come into play.
I trust you meant the Mantis GT 220s. Yes, that is always my first choice of S3 weapon, but it does generate twice the heat of the FL33s, hence my suggestion he try the Mantis and see how quickly he can kill the heat they generate.
 

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The latest I heard about the Taurus's SCU is in the 175-200ish range, which is a good bit more then the MSR and would increase profits
I also remember hearing 175.
 

Richard Bong

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You're convincing me that I should upgrade either my Hawk or my Cutlass Black (both ships I don't fly anymore) to a Saber.
I ditched my sabre, but not because I don't love the Sabre, but because I only want one Carrier fighter, and I need the cell in the Hawk. :) Once we get some tier two bounty hunting ships, that may change.
 

Vavrik

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I ditched my sabre, but not because I don't love the Sabre, but because I only want one Carrier fighter, and I need the cell in the Hawk. :) Once we get some tier two bounty hunting ships, that may change.
I can respect that. I used to want to be a bounty hunter, but stuff happens and I ended up getting more interested in exploration and invasions. I think for now I'm going to wait until the next sale before I do anything. you know, see what comes out over the next few months.
 

Zookajoe

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I think the MSR would probably be the best bet. Didn't they bill it as a "Blockade Runner"? That right there says "stealthy" to me.
 
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Ayeteeone

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I trust you meant the Mantis GT 220s. Yes, that is always my first choice of S3 weapon, but it does generate twice the heat of the FL33s, hence my suggestion he try the Mantis and see how quickly he can kill the heat they generate.
No, I mean the FL-33's you referenced earlier. The GT-220's are also quite a good choice if the pilot has skills to keep guns on target long enough.

All of the guns generate heat, some more or faster than others. Prolonged firing of any of them will push the signature beyond the detection threshold.

Edit: I guess the real question at hand is how fast that heat will dissipate with the different coolers. Will do some testing this weekend.
 
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zelange

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I wait to see how the tali gold standard, cargo modules, blades, come out to see.

Tali with half stealth components and half military powered off components can be considered stealthy, with an Ho shit button to power everything if things goes wrong.

The front cross section is around the size of a vanguard, you can mix modules if needed, you can probably slave 4s3 gimbal to the pilot, and even automate the two back one as point defence turrets if needed.

Add vtol and wings, the only thing it lack is speed, but maybe without the torps it will be better.
 
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