Flying Interceptors

Anyone that has looked at my killboard stats will notice that I spend the majority of my PVP time flying around in Interceptors. More specifically fleet, rather than combat interceptors, which with my current skills means an Ares.

I’ve mentioned the past that you need to learn how to fly each new ship, or fit, so I thought I’d take some time to explain on how I fly the Ares. It may help others starting to fly this type of Interceptor, or people might be able to point out something I could improve on.

The first thing is to define the role you are taking in the fleet. For me this depends on whether we are on a roam, or its a fleet action. On a roam I’m scout, with my job being to find enemy fleets or lock down unsuspecting Carebears. In fleet actions I’m tackle. All that needs to be done is pin down an enemy ship and stop it escaping.

When looking to fit these ships the first thing I look at is tackle, so that’s sensor resolution and a long point. The second thing is survival. You can’t really fit a decent tank on a fleet Interceptor, so survival is all about traversal. You need to be able to sustain a high speed orbit outside neutralizer range. DPS isn’t going to count for much, unless you snag an industrial, so this should be the last thing you look at when fitting.

The main difference I have between my fits is that the roaming setup has a core probe launcher and the fleet setup has smaller guns so that I can fit a small neutralizer.

To illustrate the use of the ship I’m going to recount a couple of actions from the last few days. I used the knowledge I’d built up from flying these ships to reasonable success.

The first action was a roam. We’ve been involved with battles for space for a while as an alliance, but one of the corp FCs wanted to take out a corp frigate roam as a change and to see what we could find. A route was planned, a start time posted, and we assembled at 22:00 to set off.

I was in the fast Ares with the probe launcher and 19.45 AU/s warp speed so was designated scout for the evening. We jumped along the route scanning systems as well went. Most had one or two reds in, but we didn’t have any luck in getting them tackled. Either they were really watching local, or were bot driven and warped on ‘seeing’ a red in local.

That was until we got the AGCP-I. I jumped in ahead, acceleration to lose my cloak, popped out a core probe, and starting scanning. There were 13 others in local and a collection of carriers and other high value ships on D-scan. The probe came back showing two Angel Sanctums and two Angel Havens in system. All within D-scan range.

I aligned for the first and narrowed down the D-scan. Nothing. The same for the second Sanctum and the first Haven. The final Haven showed a Nidhoggur and Noctis on scan. Time to warp in. I warned the rest of the gang, who were just coming into the previous system, what I was warping to and the FC told them to get on the gate.

I landed.

Both ships were still there, in fact neither of them looked to be aligning out. I locked both and pointed the carrier.

“Nidhoggur tackled. Get in here and tackle the Noctis”.

Local climbed as the gang jumped in and warped towards me. In the meantime I was burning out to a 25km orbit from the carrier, the warp in point had landed me within smart bomb range. I switched overview tabs to one that only showed drones. Neither the carrier nor the Noctis were going to shoot me, so traversal speed wasn’t that important, the real danger was going to be drones.

The Noctis managed to warp out just before the gang started to arrive. The carrier pilot must have woken up, as a flight of ten Berserker I’s had been launched and, from the yellow flashing boxes, sent after me.

I started targetting the drones and watching their distance. As they got close I blipped the MWD for a single cycle. That forced the drones to engage their own MWD to catch up, but then overshoot as my speed dropped. Repeating this I limited the damage taken to less than 30% of shield, and we managed to chew our way through half the drones before they returned to the carrier.

Our bombers had been pounding the carrier with torpedos the whole time and now the rest of the of the fleet added our DPS. The carrier was shield tanked, we could see the shimmer of an Invul field, but we were slowly but surely eating into it.

A call had gone out via our corp and alliance channels advertising the tackled carrier and calling for support. It was on its way but would take a little while to get to us. The carrier pilot had posted for help in local but, so far, no help had arrived.

Fighters were launched and sent them after me. They suffered from the same problem as the Berserkers though, too slow to keep up reliably, and blipping the MWD stopped them being able to deliver any damage. We began to eat our way through them. It was a surprise that we didn’t see any light drones, Warrior IIs would have caused us a bit more of a problem, we assumed that the carrier was a fail fit and didn’t have any onboard.

The fighters changed target and snagged once of our bombers that was concentrating on the carrier. Not a surprise, it takes losing a ship or two to recognise the danger.

The rate of damage slowed, but we managed to get through the shield tank. What’s this, armour tanked as well? It looked like it. This was going to take a while. Our reinforcements, in the form of a couple of Canes began to arrive. The carrier started to drop quicker. As it got to half armour a rescue fleet entered grid.

We took out a Jaguar. I was then jammed a by a Rook and lost my point. I also started to take damage so warped out and back. As I dropped back onto grid a Lockbreaker bomb went off and the carrier warped out. We tackled a couple more ships and took them down but our main quarry had escaped.

I looked back on my role in the engagement and couldn’t think of anything I could have done different. I did wonder about whether I should have stayed when the Rook had me pointed, but it was the Lockbreaker, rather than the Rook that had freed the carrier.

Later in the roam we were operating with a couple of scouts as we went through the familar ground of Insmother, I peeled off to take an alternative route for a couple of jumps. Jumping through I ran through my usual routine. As I was scanning a Rapier appeared on grid. I burned for him and locked him up. He aggressed, probably thinking that an Ares would be an easier kill. I got a point, settled into a wide orbit with high traversal, and called in the rest of the gang. I did get deep into armour, but the Rapier went down. The lesson for the pilot had to be “don’t engage a single Interceptor on a gate unless you know the next system is clear.”.

The second action was a couple of days later. We were trying to engage a few separate red fleets, but were stopped by lag in one case, and them running away in others. One of the gangs was reported to be heading through towards our Empire border system so we gave chase. I was running in fleet mode so had smaller guns and a neut fitted.

My extra speed meant that I was catching their fleet and ran across them on the BND gate in IOO. They seemed to be waiting so I warped to a tactical spot above the gate and aligned parallel to it. They seemed to be burning off to optimals but waiting to see what they could catch. Another of our Interceptors jumped in but instead of warping safe, it tried to burn away. A red Lachesis got a point and they burned after the Interceptor. It wriggling like a fish on a hook, but couldn’t get away, and eventually died. In the meantime the rest of our fleet had arrived on the other side of the gate. I warped down to the wreck and got a point on a Tengu.

I tried to settle into my usual orbit, but I was soon scrambled and lost my speed. Our fleet jumped and warped to me and, just as I was thinking I would explode, our logistics restored my shield to full. All but the Tengu warped off the field and it melted.

In this engagement I waited for my moment and grabbed the highest value ship. If I’d tried to tackle straight away I would have died before the fleet could have arrived and the enemy would have probably left at that point having got a bonus kill.

If anyone has any tips on frigate flying that I’ve not covered, please post them. I’m always looking to learn and improve.

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One Response to “Flying Interceptors”

  1. Great description of your process for flying an Ares! I’m just starting to fly these little guys (it’s quite fun), so it’s interesting to see what works for others.

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