Stealth bombers are a class of specialized tech two ships that have several unique capabilities, including the ability to warp while remaining cloaked, the ability to fit battleship-sized torpedo launchers, and the ability to fit special bomb launchers that fire area of effect bombs. That can also use a special module that lets black ops battleships jump other stealth-related ships into a system, avoiding the use of gates. They are essentially a combat model of Covert Ops ships.
Bombers are surprisingly easy to train into, compared to many other tech two ships, and offer many opportunities for PVP or profit. They are able to gank miners and freighters, and to vanish like a ghost afterwards. They can scout with impunity, and launch bombs to harass or destroy portions of enemy fleets. They are also very, very fun, de-cloaking like submarines rising from the water, firing a bomb, and disappearing just as quickly.
Quick and Dirty Training Guide
In order to get into the hull, you need to train any racial frigate skill to V, as well as Covert Ops I, though you will want to get that to IV or perhaps even V if you turn out to love dropping bombs.
You will also want missile skills. The following are the minimum for dropping bombs: Bomb Deployment I, Missile Bombardment IV, and Missile Launcher Operation I (or more).
This is for a pure bomber. I cover torpedo skills a bit later.
How Bombs Work
Bombs are not like other missiles in EVE Online. For starters, they are unguided. When fired, they proceed from the front of the bomber, in a straight line, and continue in a straight line for ten seconds, until they reach a distance of 30km from the original launch point, at which point the bomb detonates. The detonation inflicts a large amount of damage of a single type to any ships within 15km of the bomb when it detonates.
Bombs do not distinguish targets. It is entirely possible for a bomb to destroy the ship that launched it, if that ship is caught within the blast radius.
Each bomb inflicts 6400 raw damage, plus an additional 5% damage per level of Covert Ops skill trained. Thus, a character with Covert Ops trained to IV would inflict 7680 raw damage. The damage of each bomb is of a single type, as outlined here:
- Concussion: Kinetic damage, best used in the Manticore.
- Electron: EM damage, best used in the Purifier.
- Scorch: Thermal damage, best used in the Nemesis.
- Shrapnel: Explosive damage, best used in the Hound.
Like most weapons, bombs inflict less damage against smaller targets. A single bomb is not usually enough to kill any one ship, of any size, so cooperative effort is usually required to get serious results. Bombs can be destroyed, but because their flight time is only ten seconds, most ships cannot lock them in time, and most pilots are not ready for them. Theoretically, a very fast-locking ship like a destroyer could lock and blow one up before it detonates, but in practice this is very unlikely.
Aside from the four damaging bombs, there exist two other kinds of bombs: Void Bombs and Lockbreaker Bombs. These two bombs inflict tiny amounts of damage, but have special effects on the ships within their radius. These bombs do not have a reduced effect on smaller ships.
Void bombs sap the capacitor from the ships within its radius, to the tune of 1800 GJ. They are exceptionally useful against "remote-repair" fleets in which people rely on cooperative repairing methods. By depleting everybody's capacitor at once, it destroys their collective capability to use remote repair modules. Using a void bomb requires training Bomb Deployment IV.
Lockbreaker bombs work in a manner similar to ECM, having a random chance of breaking any locks that ships within the radius have. These are regarded as less useful than other bomb types or normal ECM, because they do not prevent re-locking for any period of time. They might conceivably be useful in large-scale fleet battles, but to the best of my knowledge no great use have been found for them. Note that the capital-class ships that they would most be useful against are usually immune to e-war. Using a lockbreaker bomb requires training Bomb Deployment III.
Stealth Bomber Reviews
The four stealth bomber types and their noteworthy characteristics are as follows:
Hound: The Minmatar bomber uses shrapnel bombs and bane torpedoes that deal explosive damage. It is a good middle of the road bomber, especially against armor-tankers, but I wouldn't bother trying to bomb drakes with them.
Manticore: The Caldari bomber uses concussion bombs and juggernaut torpedoes that deal kinetic damage. The fourth mid-slot and high CPU for fitting allow the manticore a lot of leeway, making it in many ways the most versatile bomber. It can use various missile-related rigs to improve its torpedo damage. It can use remote sensor dampeners for solo ganking, to get off extra volleys before a solitary target can lock you in return. It can fit a small shield extender in order to have more hit points.
Nemesis: The Gallente bomber uses scorch bombs and inferno torpedoes that deal thermal damage. Thermal damage is generally the hardest kind of damage to tank against, so this is a pretty good all-around choice. Additionally, its fourth mid-slot gives it some flexibility in fitting, similar to the manticore above.
Purifier: The Amarr bomber uses electron bombs and mjolnir torpedoes that deal EM damage. While EM damage is quite good against Caldari targets, Minmatar targets have such absurdly high EM resists that bombing or torpedoing them is often quite futile. Because of the great prevalence of Minmatar ships in PVP, this is sometimes a problem.
Note that the bomb and missile types listed are the variety that the ship gets a damage bonus for, but that the ship may load bombs or torpedoes of any type.
Torpedoes do a ton of damage to battleships and larger, but not much to smaller targets. This means that they are not especially good at fighting other frigates or even cruisers, but that they excel at pouring damage on to a soft target like an industrial-class vessel, or a battleship that is too distracted to blow it up.
Good missile skills are necessary if you plan on using torpedoes in PVP. Skills like Missile Launcher Operation V, Heavy Missiles III, Torpedoes IV, Missile Bombardment IV, Missile Projection IV, Target Navigation Prediction IV, and Warhead Upgrades IV.
Though it may be better to use named siege launchers to fire torpedoes rather than the tech two versions, if you opt for the t2 version you will need to train Torpedoes V.
Another good idea is using a Target Painter. Though often ridiculed, a single target painter will drastically improve torpedo damage.
Also, note that using small-sized rigs can be relatively cost-effective these days, if you can squeeze it on. The Bay Loading Accelerator I rig will boost your rate of fire, which is very nice for getting off that second volley against industrials and so forth. Unfortunately, there are no rigs that affect bombs or bomb launchers at this time, and many of the other rig options do not affect torpedoes.
Also, if you're really going for high-end, you could pack some Crash (a kind of combat booster).
Cooperative Bomb Usage
Getting set up to drop multiple bombs on a single fleet requires a bit of coordination, but the rewards are great. With enough bombs, it can be like a localized version of titan doomsdays (the old, grid-slaughtering version of doomsdays).
The biggest obstacle to using bombs with friends is that bombs damage each other, and only have resistance against the type of damage that they inflict. Bombs don't have many hit points. Thus, if two electron bombs are launched in sequence, then a scorch bomb is launched, the first electron bomb will detonate and destroy the scorch bomb before it explodes and injure but not destroy the second electron bomb.
This means that in order to bomb a single area multiple times without giving targets time to react, you need to make sure all your bombers are using the same bomb type. When using the wrong bomb type in a bomber you give up a +20% damage bonus, but it's worth it to get the layered damage.
Another problem is making sure that all the bombs are aligned on the same target at the same time. This is best accomplished through practice with flying bombers, and moving around the battlefield without being de-cloaked.
Note that the non-damage bombs inflict minute amounts of damage, so that there is a hard limit to the amount of simultaneous detonations possible, even though the bombs are not associated with causing damage.
Sample Manticore Fitting
- x1 Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
- x1 Bomb Launcher I (Concussion Bomb)
- x3 'Malkuth' Siege Missile Launcher I (Juggernaut Torpedo)
- x2 Sensor Booster II (Scan Resolution Script)
- x1 Warp Disruptor II
- x1 Target Painter II
- x1 Nanofiber Internal Structure II
- x1 Ballistic Control Systems II
Assuming you're hot on the keys, this will let you lock a target of opportunity very quickly after de-cloaking, thus letting you put your warp disruptor and target painter on a target almost immediately. You may then pound him with your torpedoes at your leisure. Alternatively, you can launch bombs to harass fleets.
Fun Bomb Facts And Advice
Just some general tips:
- Bomb detonations will damage cloaked ships but not de-cloak them.
- Any target that a single bomber can destroy via torpedoes will almost certainly require at least two volleys. I recommend fitting a warp disruptor on any bomber that is going to engage with torpedoes.
- Though a single bomb usually won't destroy a frigate, it will kill most drones. It may be worthwhile to strafe groups that have a lot of drones out.
- Corpses, wrecks, and jetcans will not de-cloak an already cloaked ship, but will prevent them from re-cloaking.
- Stealth bombers are in many ways just as serviceable as covert ops ships. They are just as good at smuggling small items, scouting for a fleets, or looking for cosmic anomalies (or other easily found exploration sites).
That's it for now, good luck.