The battle was fought over 2 Astrahus citadels deployed by Out of Sight.. The citadels were previously defended by the alliance, allowing them to become operational. However local forces belonging to the Drone Regions Federation (DRF) objected to them and had the structures reinforced. With the 2 citadels exiting their reinforced mode, the two sides geared up for another clash.
Local DRF forces managed to muster 2 fleets, a Tempest battleship fleet and a Cerberus heavy assault cruiser fleet as well as a Nidhoggur carrier squadron. Between them the defenders had 220 pilots. The defenders proceeded to assemble on the HD-JVQ gate, the most likely point of entry for the attackers. The defenders then anchored several mobile warp disruption fields around the gate while their fleets waited in their preferred ranges, the Cerberus fleet remaining 70 kilometers off the gate while the Tempest fleet took a more remote position of 120 kilometers and the carriers the furthest of them all, nearly 300 kilometers from the gate.
The attackers in the meanwhile formed a joint Rattlesnake battleship fleet, numbering 150 pilots with a couple of dreadnoughts and 3 Minokawa force auxiliaries to augment its logistics wing. The force comprised of Out of Sight. and the Red Menace (RMC) coalition traveled to the system, jumping in through HD-JVQ.
The Rattlesnake fleet uncloaked, spread around the gate and was hailed with fire from the Cerberus and Tempest fleets, while the carriers rushed their squadrons of fighters to meet the hostile battleships. The Rattlesnakes returned fire, the two sides settling into a long range exchange.
The first target of the Rattlesnake fleet was the heavy assault cruisers. The two fleets exchanged missile salvos, with the Rattlesnake fleet managing to soak the damage easily while the far less sturdy cruisers caved in to the missile barrage and exploded. After suffering a string of losses within the first couple of minutes of the fight, the Cerberus fleet warped off, leaving the Tempest fleet and the carriers to face off against the Rattlesnakes.
The two battleship fleets traded blows, the Tempest fleet burning closer to get all of its ships in range. At this point, a squadron of battleships made a mistake and warped to the gate instead of aligning, landing at the edge of the mobile warp disruption fields and finding itself perilously close to the Rattlesnakes. The Rattlesnake fleet took advantage of the mistake and targeted the stranded battleships.
Volley after volley of missiles and drone fire devastated the battleships, bringing them down in rapid succession. The Tempest fleet kept hammering at Rattlesnakes, but were for the most part unable to inflict major casualties. From time to time it was able to catch the unwary battleship or overwhelm one of the Basilisk logistics cruisers which comprised part of the Rattlesnake fleet’s logistics wing.
With the nearby battleships dispatched, the Rattlesnake fleet started clearing the mobile warp disruption fields and the occasional interdictor which the defenders brought to keep the Rattlesnakes pinned down on the gate. All the while, the opposing fleets maintained their long range duel. The Rattlesnake fleet started slowly but surely to overcome the thick armor plating of the Tempests, though their logistics wing fought valiantly to save each ship.
By this point, the Cerberus fleet returned to the field, warping at long range of the Rattlesnake fleet. The Tempest fleet itself was in the process of re-grouping, its forces warping off the grid to a safe citadel. The Rattlesnake fleet mostly ignored the two and aligned towards the carriers. Free from the cover of warp disruption probes, the Rattlesnake fleet initiated warp, attempting to land on the carriers. The carriers, already aligned, warped out as the battleships landed and left the Rattlesnake fleet empty handed.
With the Rattlesnake fleet at a perch off the gate and pinned down by its own warp disruption probes which it launched in an attempt to catch the carriers, the Cerberus fleet moved closer to the gate, targeting the Minokawa force auxiliaries which remained on the gate itself. Salvos of missiles hit the enormous shields of the Minokawas, who shrugged off the attack. Moving so close to the ships and the gate itself proved disastrous for the Cerberus fleet. The Rattlesnakes burned out of the cover of the warp disruption probes and warped back to the gate, landing a mere 40 kilometers from the Cerberus fleet.
The heavy assault cruisers found themselves covered with warp disruption probes and getting hammered by the battleships, whose missiles rained down on the pinned cruisers. Cruiser after cruiser blew up in a bright flash as the missiles took their toll on the defenders. The Cerberus fleet started burning away from the cover of warp disruption probes, attempting to clear it and warp off. Salvation came in the form of the Tempest fleet which returned to the field, warping below the warring fleets 100 kilometers away from the Rattlesnakes.
The Rattlesnake fleet switched its attention from the fleeing cruisers back to the battleships. The two fleets clashed once more in their long range duel. For a few minutes, artillery and missile fire crossed the void between the two fleets, claiming victims on both sides. Soon, it became quite evident that the Rattlesnake fleet had the upper hand, felling several mainline ships for each loss it incurred.
As the exchanged continued, the carriers made their return to the field, landing once again 300 kilometers away from the gate. Immediately, the Rattlesnake fleet prepared to warp again on the elusive capitals, aligning towards them while still trading blows with the Tempests before warping off and landing on the carriers. This time though, things went differently. The carriers had returned to the field in a piecemeal fashion, leading to a few of them landing quite late. This would prove a costly unforced error. When the battleships warped on top of them, not all the carriers were aligned to safety, leading to a pair getting snagged by the Rattlesnake fleet.
The Rattlesnakes pounced on their catch, blasting the Nidhoggur carriers at point blank range. Flights of heavy drones were let loose on the carriers, as missile batteries kept launching their deadly payload without pause. One after another, the carriers fell, their mighty shields brought down with alarming speed.
The Tempest fleet attempted to intervene and rescue the stranded ships, warping to the Rattlesnake fleet but to no avail. By the time the battleships landed at the edge of the warp disruption probes covering the carriers, all that remained of them were twisted wrecks. With the carriers gone, the Rattlesnakes turned their attention to the Tempests. The Rattlesakes quickly tackled the battleships, the two fleets tangling up as they exchanged blows in a close quarters brawl.
Battleships on both sides were overwhelmed as missiles impacted nearly instantaneously, not allowing the logistics wing much time to lock and initiate remote repairs. Artillery shells crashed into Rattlesnakes, penetrating their shields and crashing through their hull. The Tempest fleet however was not interested in remaining to fight and aligned out to a friendly citadel in the system. The battleships overloaded their propulsion modules to rescue themselves from the cover of the warp disruption probes. Those who cleared it, warped out to safety. Those who got tackled by the interceptors and interdictors of the Rattlesnake fleet were dispatched.
Finally, with the last stragglers of the Tempest fleet destroyed, the Rattlesnake fleet held the field. As the battle had raged on the HD-JVQ gate, the citadels had exited their invulnerability mode and initiated self repairs without interference. This allowed the structures to repair themselves before starting their usual invulnerability cycle, thus securing the strategic objective for the attackers.
With both the field and the strategic objective won, the attackers departed the system, bringing the fight to an end.
The Battle from the Perspective of the Out of Sight. and Red Menace Coalition Rattlesnake Fleet
Battle report for the MTO2-2 system can be found here.
All told the battle lasted 32 minutes with Time Dilation not reported and the system hosting 400 pilots at the peak of the fighting.
Out of Sight. and its allies lost 27 ships in the fighting, including 8 battleships for a total of 8.94 billion ISK.
The defenders lost 90 ships in the fight, including 2 carriers, 40 battleships and 19 heavy assault cruisers for a total of 25.42 billion ISK.
Salivan Harddin is a member of V0LTA, WE FORM V0LTA, and covers battles across New Eden