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Interceptors (often called "inties" or "'ceptors") are a class of Tech 2 frigates. They are some of the fastest ships, and they have attributes and bonuses which make them supremely effective for tackling and scouting. Inties are often one of the first classes of T2 ships that pilots train. Besides their core roles, they are also used for pure travel. If they are fitted for pure travel they are called travel ceptor.
There are two types of interceptor: fleet interceptors and combat interceptors. Each of the four empire factions has one interceptor of each type. Besides those two special edition pirate interceptors exist, the Imp and the Whiptail. Technically they are fleet interceptors but they are of little interest here because they are very rare and expensive.
All interceptors share the following characteristics:
- They all have an 80% reduction in Propulsion Jamming systems activation cost role bonus. This makes it easier to have tackle modules running.
- They all have a 15% reduction in Microwarpdrive signature radius penalty for each level their pilot has in Interceptors. This allows to reduce incoming damage by speed tanking.
- They all have very high base velocities. This allows great on grid mobility to get tackle on targets.
- They all have very high base scan resolution, letting them lock on to targets rapidly.
- Interceptors have a warp speed of 8.0 AU/s. This means they can overtake most ships in warp and also get to a target quickly to secure tackle.
The fleet interceptors have following traits in common which make them ideal fleet support as fast tackle and scouts.:
- They have a 5% bonus to warp scrambler and warp disruptor range for each level their pilot has in Interceptors.
- They have immunity to non-targeted interdiction, which means they can warp while inside a warp disruption bubble.
The tackle range bonus allows the fleet interceptor to hold tackle at a relatively safe distance. The interdiction nullification means that you can reach targets quickly even through bubbles. This is also important in the scout role. Further, they have bonuses tied to the skills of their respective empire faction's frigate:
- Malediction: 5% bonuses to rocket damage and 4% bonus to all armor resistances per level
- Crow: 5% bonus to Light Missile and Rocket explosion radius and 10% bonus to Light Missile and Rocket max velocity per level
- Ares: 5% bonus to hybrid damage and 7.5% bonus to hybrid tracking per level
- Stiletto: 5% bonus to projectile damage and 7.5% bonus to projectile tracking per level
Those bonuses are only of minor importance for their usual role. (Which doesn't mean they might not matter for more unusual roles and fits.) They distinguish each other mostly through base stats like speed, slot layout, and fitting space as those define the possible fits. The Stiletto is very popular in a shield buffer fit, while the Malediction is usually flown with an ancilliary armor repairer. The Crow is lacking one lowslot in comparison to the Stiletto which means it can't fit for as much speed. The bigger shield buffer can't make up for that as speed is very important for fleet interceptors. The Ares can be fitted in a similar way as the Malediction. But its base speed is significantly lower, it has less armor buffer and is lacking the armor resist bonus. The low align time of the Ares makes it a popular travel ceptor though. As a fleet tackle this can be an advantage because a target might not consider the Ares the same thread as a Stiletto or Malediction.
Besides their usual roles as scout and tackle, fleet interceptors are often used in unconventional ways. Travel ceptors are fleet interceptors which are fitted to have less than two seconds align time. This is often paired with rigs for faster warp speed. Fleet interceptors are also sometimes fitted for exploration in nullsec. The idea is that they are safer for traveling than covert ops ships which are bonused for scanning. But it's doubtful, if the interdiction nullification is really worth to pass on the scanning bonus. Another use is to fit them with ECM burst jammers to disrupt enemy fleets. In this case they warp in ECM burst and warp off again. The warpins are usually provided by combat scanners.
Combat interceptors are more combat oriented than their counterpats, as the name suggests. They shared the interdiction nullification traits with the other interceptors until October 2018 when it was removed. Before that change combat interceptor fleets were a common concept. Especially Claws fitted for fast align and high alpha were very successful. These so called Fozzie Claws caused CCP to remove nullification from the combat ceptors. Since then combat interceptors struggle to stand up to other ships especially assault frigates which can also warp at over 8 AU/s if they are hyperspatial rigged (status November 2019). This doesn't mean that you cannot find a niche use for them.
The combat interceptors don't have one common skill bonus. The first bonus mentioned is tied to the Interceptors skill, while the others are tied to the skill of their respective empire faction's frigate:
- Crusader: 10% less laser cap use, 10% bonus to laser damage, 7.5% bonus to laser tracking per level
- Raptor: 10% bonus to Small Hybrid Turret Damage, 10% bonus to Small Hybrid Turret optimal range
- Taranis: 15% bonus to hybrid damage, 7.5% bonus to hybrid tracking per level
- Claw:10% bonus to Small Projectile Turret damage, 5% bonus to Small Projectile Turret rate of fire, 7.5% bonus to projectile tracking per level
To be able to sit in an interceptor, you need the relevant T1 frigate skill at level five and Interceptors at one which has Evasive Maneuvering 5 as a prerequisite. If you want to use a fleet interceptor in the tackle role you should train Interceptors at least to level four and level five is recommended.
Besides the required skills you mostly need good general support skills (compare Magic 14) to improve your speed/agility as well as your capacitor life. The following skills are important to improve your navigation:
- Navigation 5% bonus to sub-warp speed per level. Level 5 is recommended.
- Acceleration Control 5% bonus to afterburner and MWD speed per level. Level 4 is recommended.
- Spaceship Command 2% to ship agility per level. Level 5 is recommended.
- Evasive Maneuvering 5% improved ship agility for all ships per skill level. Level 5 is a prerequisite anyways.
Interceptors don't have a lot of capacitor but MWDs are capacitor hungry modules. Thus, skills to improve your capacitor or to reduce capacitor consumption are important:
- Capacitor Management and Capacitor Systems Operation should at least be at level four. Train them to level five very early.
- High Speed Maneuvering 5% reduction in MicroWarpdrive capacitor usage per skill level. Level 4 is required. Level 5 recommended.
- Propulsion Jamming 5% Reduction to Warp Scrambler, Warp Disruptor, and Stasis Web capacitor need per skill level. Level 4 is recommended.
Other generally important skills for an interceptor:
- CPU Management and Power Grid Management. Many fits are very tight and require those skills at level 5.
- Shield Upgrades reduces the fitting space for shield upgrades. Especially some Stiletto fits assume it at level 5. Fits without shield extenders don't profit from it at all.
- Hull Upgrades at least at level 4 for T2 damage control. Level 5 recommended for more armor buffer.
- Mechanics, Shield Management, and Shield Operation improve your general buffer tank.
- Signature Analysis 5% scan resolution per level; getting this to level 5 will greatly boost your target locking speed.
- Long Range Targeting will help make sure you can actually target out to the same range that you can point.
- Thermodynamics Allows overheating of modules: vital in tight situations to give an extra boost of speed or point range. Nanite Operation is required for Nanite Paste, used to repair heat damage.
- Astronautics Rigging for navigation rigs.
- Electronic Superiority Rigging for rigs that improve targeting speed and range.
- Thermodynamics IV to allow you to overheat your MWD and point.
This section focuses on fitting principles for fleet interceptors in the role as tackle. You can find solid fits for each fleet interceptor on their respective articles. Here we only want to talk about the general considerations. Many people who specialise as an interceptor pilot also have highly specialised personal fits which suit their personal style but are not recommended for a beginner or general purpose. Experienced pilots also often choose the more expensive and better faction modules. One of those modules alone usually costs more than a T2 fitted interceptor. This is reasonable for experienced pilots as they know how to fly a fleet interceptor without ever losing it. A new pilot will surely lose several interceptors before he masters piloting them. (Most players never focus enough on this special role to ever master it.)
To fulfil your role as fleet tackle you always need to fit:
- a warp disruptor (also called point or long point). This is for your main purpose: to hold tackle on another ship. You usually choose the T2 version which has a range of 30 km cold (means without heat) and 36 km hot (if you have the interceptor skill at five, a bit less otherwise). Experienced pilots sometimes choose faction points as those have an even bigger range.
- a 5mn microwarpdrive. This allows you for great speed which means mobility but also reduces the damage you take. You usually choose the restrained version as its signature bloom, capacitor reduction and fitting space is relatively good. The other meta versions might be useful for special cases. The T2 has no true advantages over the meta modules. Again, experienced pilots might invest more here. Notice that A-types are about the same price as the other versions although they have the best stats.
- a warp scrambler (scram). The scram is not primarily used to hold tackle but for scram passes, to go close for a scram if you see a microjump drive animation, or to prevent targets from gate crashing. In certain specialised cases the scram might be omitted but in general you need to fit a scram as your FC expects you to have a scram fitted. Omitting it without the awareness of the FC hurts the fleet's performance significantly. The scram is usually T2 for its longer range compared to the meta versions. It's less often upgraded to a better version than the point or MWD.
The targeting range of interceptors (36.9 to 40.6 km at Long Range Targeting 5) is short compared with their point range especially if heated. In the hunter role you want to be able to lock the target while you spiral in so that you can lock it as soon as it is in heated point range. For this reason, nearly all fits use a Small Ionic Field Projector II rig which increases the targeting range by 30%. The alternatives would be Signal Amplifiers or Sensor Boosters but the slots and fitting space are too valuable to use for them.
The next important consideration is speed. Interceptors are already fast but the higher the speed the quicker you get on a target to tackle and the less damage you take through speed tanking. Typically, you fit a T2 Nanofiber Internal Structure which increases speed and agility combined with a T2 Overdrive Injector System which simply increases speed. On top of that you fit one of the following navigation rigs: Small Auxiliary Thrusters increase your speed, Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints improves your agility, and Small Polycarbon Engine Housing for both. Overall be aware that you don’t want to only fit modules which increase speed but also modules which increase agility.
The remaining slots are usually used for tank. A T2 damage control is usually fit to any interceptor. The shield interceptors, Stilettos and Crows, are usually shield buffer tanked. Which means they fit a Medium Shield Extenders. The armor interceptors, Maledictions and Ares, are usually fit with a Small Ancillary Armor Repairer. Buffer armor fits are unusual because a plate slows you down.
Guns or missile launchers are only of little concern. If the fitting space is there, you fit some and use them to get rid of light drones. If you don’t have the fitting space don’t compromise the rest of the fit to squeeze some guns or missiles in.
Energy Nosferatus are an option for the highslots. The idea is to steal a bit of cap, but realistically you are rarely close enough to anything to improve your cap significantly.
Experienced pilots often use snake implants to improve their speed even more. Skill Hardwiring can be used to further increase speed or improve cap. If you want to use medical boosters, overclocker and quafe zero are obvious candidates.
Above covers the base fitting considerations. Experienced pilots might break the above rules with a special case in mind. For example, some might even fit an expanded probe launcher for combat probes but this takes a lot of fitting space. This said only break those rules if you know what you are doing.
Generally, inty pilots want to keep speed and angular velocity high as these are the main form of tank.
Fleet interceptors are generally flown as a special tackler, often staying a couple of jumps ahead or behind the main fleet to hold enemies in place until the fleet arrives, or providing mini-warpin* points and mobile safespots during a battle. Depending on the fleet style, they can 'scout and skirmish', roaming around to find targets, often holding them in place for up to 10 or 15 minutes while the rest of the fleet arrives; sit at gatecamps and a put a fast point on anything flashy coming through; or get initial tackle and then hold valuable non-primary targets during a longer engagement until the fleet is ready to DD them.
Inties should approach targets at an angle to maximize traversal while spiraling in. If you are flying an inty and charging straight at a target from a distance rather than spiraling in, you are ignoring one of the ship's principle defensive abilities -- agility -- and are needlessly risking a potentially crippling amount of damage or even a fatal alpha strike. Once in place, the inty should orbit at around 15-25km in order to stay out of web/scram/neut range while keeping angular velocity up. **REPEAT: wandering into scram range = very, very bad for fleet interceptors.** Scrams nearly always portend the destruction of your fleet interceptor. BEWARE! Battleships can fit large neuts that can reach out to 25.2km, so these should be kept at a distance, while faster cruisers should be orbited at a smaller range so they don't escape. Orbit speed should be around 4-5km/s, so if the target launches drones, they will generally end up getting kited by the inty and be fairly easy to track and pick off. Note that, depending on skills and ships, the range at which the inty orbits will not necessarily be what the pilot has set in the UI. Pilots should check their actual orbit distances so they know what to choose in order to orbit at the correct range. When orbiting a target, avoid being "slingshotted" out of point range. Savvy targets delight in slingshotting.
Fleet interceptors should generally avoid faster targets like frigates and speedfit cruisers: these have a good chance of breaking the inty's orbit and applying a scram or web. Some enemies, like the Privateers, specialize in kiting and picking off smaller tacklers and running before the fleet arrives: these should just be avoided unless a warpin for the whole fleet can be generated.
In some circumstances, such as a planned long gatecamp, ships will be asked to fit remote sensor boosters to assist inties in grabbing targets quickly. This will generally be up to the fleet commander to organize, although you should know how many boosters can be assigned to you and still be useful (ie, before lag and reaction time become the dominant factor in how fast you can lock a target). An interceptor should also be the first to de-agress and jump back through a gate if the targets seem to be trying to jump back, chase after targets that break through the camp, or picket the other side of a gate during a fight- giving intel on what is coming through.
* Providing mini-warp points ("tactical miniwarps"): An inty may be sent 150km+ from the rest of the fleet so that other ships can warp out to it if necessary -- to reduce incoming damage or break target locks without having to bounce all the way to a planet or station.
A combat interceptor's job is to establish dominance of the frigates on the battlefield, including the enemy's tackle/interceptors, by counter-tackling and killing them. Combat interceptors fly like assault frigates in many ways. They will often have their own important targets independent of the fleet's primary.
Various modules and tactics can be used to kill interceptors, drive them away, or escape their tackle. It is good to know those as an interceptor pilot but also – of course – if you have to deal with an interceptor on the opposing side. A ship with similar speed can use a Slingshot Maneuver to break the interceptor‘s orbit to either escape tackle or to bring it into web/scram range.
Light drones are a common defence against all small ships, interceptors included. The Minmatar Warrior II light drones are the nimblest and fastest drones, often matching interceptor speeds, and so are the most common choice. Since the release of the Kronos patch, and the rebalance of drones, Acolytes have become a threat to tackle frigates as they are often shield fit and lacks resistance for EM. Acolytes are almost as fast as Warriors.
However, interceptors go so very fast that even those drones are likely to still spend time fruitlessly chasing them around. But some ships have a bonus to drone speed through a hull bonus or a drone navigation link. The drones of such ships are an especially big threat to an interceptor.
Speed is very important for Interceptors. But they need a microwarpdrive to achieve high speeds which can be shut off by scrams. The range bonus on their own scrams allows the fleet interceptors usually to keep other ships out of their respective scram range. But they are not the only hulls with a bonus to scram range. The Gallente T2 EWAR ships (Keres, Arazu, and Lachesis) as well as the Mordu’s Legion ships (Garmur, Orthrus, and Barghest) have a bonus to scram (and point) range. Expect them to have faction or even abyssal scrams fitted and to use heat. Be also aware of your positioning towards different hostile ships. If you are holding tackle on one ship it can easily happen that you accidentally fly into the scram range of another hostile ship.
Long range webs
As webs slow interceptors down they are obviously helpful against them. But usually an interceptor can comfortably stay out of web range except for ships with a bonus to web range. Those are the Minmatar T2 EWAR ships (Hyena, Huginn, and Rapier) as well as the Blood Raider ships (Cruor, Ashimmu, and Bhaalgorn). Like for scrams expect faction or abyssal webs used with heat and watch your general positioning. Besides normal webs grapplers can also pose a thread.
In the fitting section the importance of targeting range was already discussed. Damps with a range script can hurt an interceptor a lot. He has to either drop tackle or close in which increases his risk towards the other things mentioned here. While any ship can potentially fit damps you have to expect them on bonused hulls (Maulus, Maulus Navy Issue, and Keres).
Sometimes fleets dedicate ships to deal with tackle. This is very common in nano gangs. Turrets usually have trouble with tracking or range against interceptors. Thus, those ships are usually fitted with (rapid) light missile launcher as they deal and apply a good amount of damage at a good range. In general you can fit any cruiser and battlecruiser sized hull with missile hardpoints with rapid lights. Hulls which are often used in that role are Orthrus (note the scram range bonus mentioned above), the Minmatar EWAR cruisers (Bellicose, Rapier, and Huginn as they can fit rapid lights and have a bonus to target painters), and the Osprey Navy Issue.
A few cycles from a medium energy neutralizer or just one cycle from a large neut can remove all of an interceptor's capacitor, shutting down its MWD and point and leaving it dead in the water. Medium neuts have similar ranges to scrams and webs, and so are not dangerous to a competent inty pilot (who stays clear of scram range). But the Amarr T2 EWAR ships (Sentinel, Pilgrim, and Curse) have a bonus to neut range (and strength).
The fitting requirements on heavy neuts mean that they are nearly exclusively fitted to battleships and capitals. The range of a T2 heavy neut is 20 km optimal plus 10 km fall off. Its neut amount is so high that it’s still very significant in fall off to an interceptor. Many battleships fit heavy neuts especially if they have a utility highslot and in a solo or small gang context. You can always expect them on a Bhaalgorn (drain amount bonus) and Armageddon (range bonus).
X-Type heavy neuts are often used on capitals as their range is even bigger. The intended use is to shake off interceptors and other light tackle.