An unfortunate fact about being part of a fleet's electronic warfare crew is that you'll almost certainly be a high priority target for your enemies. To make matters worse, specialist electronic warfare ships tend to have very poor defensive capabilities. Fitting any kind of tank on an electronic warfare ship can waste vital module slots and severely impact the performance of your ship. This is particularly true in the case of ECM jamming ships where the low slots should be used for signal distortion amplifiers.
What can you do to keep your ship safe on the battlefield and what should you do to help your fleet be victorious? Join me as I answer these questions in a thorough tactical overview of electronic warfare in EVE Online.
Like everything in PvP, staying safe is almost entirely down to tactics and strategy rather than ship fitting. When facing down enemy fleets of 40 or more ships, a tank on any specialist electronic warfare ship does little to no good. Instead, it's best to avoid being attacked as much as possible. The most effective way of avoiding attack is to maximise the range of your electronic warfare modules and attempt to outrange the enemy's damage-dealing and tackling ships. Using an effective combination of skills, modules, ship bonuses and rigs, some electronic warfare specialists can obtain an effective range of over 200km.
One of the main things a long range electronic warfare ship fears is the enemy fleet having a coordinated sniper wing. Since sniper battleships and some missile ships have effective ranges of over 200km, your electronic warfare squad would be a prime target for attack. Defending against this is no easy task but with a significantly sized electronic warfare squad and some quick thinking, it becomes possible to neutralise the entire enemy sniper wing. Since the snipers will be at the extremes of their targeting range, a few well-placed sensor dampeners should cause the entire sniper wing to be unable to lock you.
If successful, a single Celestis cruiser can disable one or two enemy sniper battleships in this manner. An often overlooked alternative to remote sensor dampening is to use tracking disruptors with optimal range scripts installed. These are much more effective and can be used on non-specialist ships with very little drop in performance. A single tracking disruptor will cut the enemy's optimal range in half and can be applied from over 100km away with good skills and rigs. A single Celestis or Blackbird using tracking disruptors instead of their normal gear can cause as many as five or six snipers to be unable to hit their intended targets.
In addition to long-range snipers, your electronic warfare ship will be vulnerable to fast ships like interceptors that can approach your location rapidly and engage. Since the fastest ships are small frigate-sized vessels with low sensor strength, ECM jammers are a good defence against them. Many pilots pack their drone bay full of ECM drones for just this eventuality. Unfortunately, the harsh reality of being an electronic warfare specialist is that as a high priority target, there's a good chance you won't come out of any fleet battle alive.
Who to target:
Now that you know how to set your ship up and keep yourself safe, you're ready to be deployed onto the battlefield. You'll soon find that having all that specialised equipment is no good if you don't know who to use it on. For fleet work, the general rule is always to simply follow orders and learn from other fleet members. In instances where you're left without orders or told to target enemies at will, there are some important rules to keep in mind that will help you pick the right targets.
- Always use sensor dampeners with the targeting range script against long-range ships like snipers or enemy electronic warfare specialists.
- Always use sensor dampeners with the scan resolution script against large ships like battleships which have longer base targeting times.
- Always use racial ECM jammers against ships of the appropriate race if any are present.
- Always use tracking disruptors on ships that are primarily turret-based such as the Rohk and the Megathron.
- Never use energy neutralisers on ships that are likely to be passive-tanking like the Drake. These ships don't need capacitor and will not be debilitated.
In part 2 of this guide, I explained the various ships and equipment available to electronic warfare enthusiasts. One thing I didn't touch on, however, was rigs. There are rigs for practically any purpose and electronic warfare is no different. The "Electronic Superiority" rigs provide significant bonuses at relatively low cost. The single best rig for all specialists is the "Particle Dispersion Projector I", which increases the optimal range of all electronic warfare modules by a massive 20%. Using two of these and some sensor boosters to extend their lock range, ECM specialist ships like the Falcon, Scorpion or Blackbird can successfully target-jam enemies from up to 250km away.
In addition to the optimal range rig, each form of electronic warfare has its own specialist rig that increases its strength. The "Inverted Signal Field Projector I" and "Tracking Diagnostic Subroutines I" rigs increase the strength of remote sensor dampeners and tracking disruptors by 5% respectively, while ECM jammers gain 10% strength from the "Particle Dispersion Augmentor I" rig. These rigs are particularly useful on sensor dampening ships where alternative modules to increase sensor dampener strength are not available. Although ECM jammers gain a 10% bonus from their rig, a stacking penalty means using it on ships with two or more Signal Distortion Amplifiers provides little benefit. This stacking penalty also makes the most effective rig combinations those that use no more than two of the same rig. Two optimal range rigs and one strength rig provides excellent bonuses on sensor dampening and tracking disrupting ships.
Having covered topics from skills and ship fitting to survival tactics and choosing targets, thus concludes this exhaustive guide on electronic warfare. Whether you're new to the role or an intermediate player with some experience, the electronic warfare squad is an essential part of any fleet. Fly safe o/.