hOW THE X-WING OUTGUNNED THE ENTERPRISE
Written by Calivess
Star Wars vs. Star Trek: How the X-wing outgunned the Enterprise
I treated myself to a personal showing of Star Trek: Nemesis last week. Took me 3 nights to watch it all, since I got bored. Thank you, Tom Hardy, for helping me get through it. Honestly, if he wasn't in it, I wouldn't have even bothered. Trash talk aside, let's get down to the nitty gritty; How does the technology match up between Star Trek and Star Wars? Fair warning, there are some spoilers ahead from a handful of films and shows.
There's a scene in the film when the Enterprise-E (A Federation Sovereign-class starship) is battling the Scimitar (A prototype Reman warbird, which is a more advanced version of the Valdore-class Romulan warbird). While watching this battle, I realized that a single X-wing fighter could easily take out the Enterprise. Strap on your seatbelts for a geekzy ride through the technology of the two universes!
In this example, I'll be comparing two iconic starships, helmed by iconic crew. In the Trek corner is the starship Enterprise-E, commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his faithful crew. In the Wars corner is the classic T-65B X-Wing starfighter, piloted by none other than Captain Wedge Antilles, with R2-D2 as his trusty astromech droid.
The Enterprise has ten photon torpedo launchers, and sixteen phaser arrays. It's shielding is also a downgrade from the Shield Grid of the Enterprise D (the previous incarnation of the iconic starship), which was originally based on the shield technology capable of protecting an entire planet. The Enterprise E has a single standard deflector shield. In addition, it also carries it's primary Navigational Deflector which, when energy is rerouted to it, can be channeled into a large energy beam. The Navigational Deflector is the fancy blue circle you see in the forward part of the hull on nearly all Federation starships. Of it's ten torpedo bays, three are aft of the saucer section, and thus concealed (facing deck three) until saucer separation. The primary launcher is under the main hull and is fitted with the "Quantum Torpedoes". There are two twin-tubes (effectively two launchers, which can each fire two torpedoes) under the secondary hull (the non-saucer section). In addition, there are two more aft launchers on the secondary hull under the shuttle bay.
Photon Torpedoes (the Class-6) were rated at two-hundred isotons (basically powerful enough to level the entirety of L.A. County), where as the Quantum Torpedoes, which are more advanced, were rated at slightly less than twenty-two isotons (capable of leveling a small suburb). Isotons are Star Trek jargon, but for sake of simplicity for my non-Trek readers, consider that a class-6 photon torpedo has the destructive capability of an atomic bomb from the 40s, and a Quantum Torpedo is similar to a Patriot Missile.
Doing some research, I see only two differences between Star Wars shield technology and Star Trek shield technology; First, since the Star Trek shields work on frequencies that are set, it is possible to scan a shield's frequency and either deactivate a Trek ship's shields remotely, or bypass them completely. This happens quite often in the Star Trek universe. This is not an issue with Star Wars shields.
Second, shields from the Star Trek universe cannot protect against physical (non-energy) objects. Near the climax of the battle at the end of Nemesis, the Enterprise's shields were down to 4% power. The Scimitar's primary shields were at 70% (and it's secondary shields were obviously at 100%). Although both ships had functioning shields, the Enterprise rammed the Scimitar causing heavy damage to both ships.
Warp drive (originally called Time Warp Drive in the first season of the original series) is much faster than a hyperdrive. Lightspeed and "warp factor 1" are effectively the same thing. A hyperdrive from Star Wars can only go slightly past the speed of light (slightly faster than Star Trek's Warp 1). A warp drive, on the other hand, can go exponentially faster than the speed of light. Some ships in the Star Trek Universe are capable of reaching speeds of Warp 9, which is effectively over 700 times the speed of light. In a street race, any interstellar ships from the Star Trek Universe would beat any interstellar ships from the Star Wars Universe. Dogfighting and combat maneuvers are another matter altogether.
When not in warp, the Star Trek ships move at impulse speed. In an emergency escape situation, an impulse drive at maximum power might possibly reach 80% of the speed of light. At those levels, though, energy consumption would quickly wipe out the power available to the impulse drives. In general, impulse drives propel ships at less than one-third the speed of light during combat situations.
Sublight and Ion Drives, on the other hand, are extraordinarily fast. Sublight drives in the Star Wars universe operate at just below the lightspeed threshold in standard combat situations. This imbalance shows that Star Wars ships, especially dogfighters like the X-Wing, would be much more maneuverable in close combat situations.
Of the sixteen phaser arrays on the Enterprise, no more than eight total can ever be brought to bear at any one single direction. Anything in the front of the ship can be targeted by three torpedo launchers (two photon, one quantum), and anything behind the ship can be targeted by four. Without modification of the torpedoes themselves, or altering their guidance systems, it is impossible for anything above the ship to be targeted by photon torpedoes.
With this in mind, the more maneuverable T-65B could easily fly within the shield radius (which extends greatly away from the Enterprise's hull) and destroy the Navigational Deflector. While the threat exists of the dorsal hull torpedo launchers, the T-65B's flak/chaff would render the torpedoes useless, detonating them long before they reached the X-Wing. With the primary Navigational Deflector down, it would render the already-nullified shields completely useless. In addition, the lack of the Navigational Deflector would prevent the Enterprise from entering warp, as the deflector is responsible for protecting the ship from debris during hyperspace jumps; entering warp at that point would be suicide. Deck 16, Engineering, is also located behind the Navigational Deflector. A secondary blast would render the ship completely crippled.
In addition, with the X-Wing's speed and maneuverability, it is also possible for the fighter to completely riddle the ship with holes in it's most vital areas; above and behind the primary hull. The bridge, the officer's quarters, the observation lounge, and the primary shuttle bay are all relatively undefended compared to other parts of the ship. The multiple-generators of the T-65B would most likely survive the 2 or 3 lucky phaser array blasts that could possibly strike the fighter, and rerouting power from the hyperdrive via the standard R2 unit would reinforce the shields when necessary.
The exposed command bridge of the Enterprise E is also its most vulnerable point - and this is where the fight becomes extremely one-sided. With an effective range of over 3000 kilometers and a 98% accuracy rate within 3 meters, a well-placed MG7 torpedo would destroy the command bridge and adjoining areas. As was stated before - the MG7 (as a physical ballistic) would not be stopped by the shields of the Enterprise. At a range of 3000 kilometers, the T-65B would most likely destroy the Enterprise command deck before the Enterprise even knew they were in combat.
So there you have it: The Enterprise is no match for even a ship like an X-Wing. I would also like to remind you that, in my example, the X-Wing would be piloted by Wedge Antilles, and not Luke Skywalker. This was to make things fair. After watching the movie Nemesis and realizing that Vkruk (Shinzon's Viceroy) was capable of invading Counselor Troi's mind with cheap parlor tricks, I came to the conclusion that Luke could probably kill every living thing on the Enterprise with his mind.
Disagree with my assessment? Feel that I was unfair? Or maybe you think that there is something I am missing? Let's hear it in the comments below!