Pipe bombing is a tactic involving trapping an enemy fleet travelling through nullsec with an interdiction bubble and using smartbombing battleships to destroy them. Because smartbombs are area-of-effect weapons with no lock on times, a smartbombing fleet can be very effective even when vastly outnumbered against a clustered enemy. The technique was popularized by the player group Rooks and Kings.
A fleet preparing to pipe bomb a hostile fleet requires:
- An Interdictor with a cloak, bubble launcher and cyno. This will be used to trap the enemy fleet.
- A Titan inside a POS within jump range of the staging system (where the interdictor is). This will be used to bridge the battleships to the staging system.
- At least a dozen Battleships sitting next to the titan. All battleships should fit a cap booster, fill their high slots with the same type of smartbomb, and use their remaining slots to tank against that type of damage. (For example, if all battleships fit Large EMP Smartbombs, which deal EM damage, they should tank against EM damage.)
- A spy in the hostile fleet to track its movement. (Optional but highly recommended.)
All of these ships (except the spy) must be part of the same fleet.
Laying the trap
The friendly interdictor positions themselves about 20 km in front of a gate that the hostile fleet will warp to, and stays cloaked until the hostile fleet has entered the staging system. (The spy's job is to let the interdictor know when this is happening.) The hostile fleet will likely have scouts, but they will only be able to see the interdictor pilot in local, so they will report that it is safe for the hostile fleet to enter the system.
At this point, the interdictor decloaks and launches a bubble. As long as the bubble is launched before the hostile fleet begins warping across the system to the gate, the fleet will land at the edge of the bubble instead of reaching the gate. After the hostile fleet begins warping, but before it arrives at the bubble, the interdictor flies to the edge of the bubble (where the hostile fleet will arrive) and lights a cyno.
Springing the trap
As soon as the cyno is lit, the friendly titan bridges all battleships to the cyno. When all battleships are through, they immediately activate all of their smartbombs (using their cap boosters if necessary).
When the hostile fleet lands on the bubble, its members are subjected to damage from the smartbombs -- each battleship can deal up to 2400 damage per volley (320 dps) to all ships inside a 6 km radius. If the pipebombing fleet has 20 battleships, this equates to a total of up to 6400 dps to all hostile ships caught in the middle, enough to take out all but the hardiest ships (and their pods, too) in a matter of seconds. The pipe bombing battleships will also damage each other, but will last much longer because they are specifically tanked to resist each other's damage.
Rooks and Kings have used this tactic to completely obliterate much larger fleets. Their video Clarion Call 4 demonstrates the effective use of this tactic at great length. The tactic also made an appearance in the Eve trailer "This is Eve".