No announcement yet.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Hiveships/Wraith.

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Everything you ever wanted to know about Hiveships/Wraith.

    The following vast accumulation of text you're about to read is the fruit born of numerous discussions between myself and fellow GW member Mr. Oragahn. A lot of this information has appeared on this board before but a lot of it is also new. Rather than have everything spread out all over the place and/or see the same topics rehashed again thread after thread we felt that collecting everything into one thread like this would be of benfit to the tech forum here, and anyone who might have questions that have already been answered in the past.

    The goal of this thread is to provide an in depth description of each aspect of a Wraith hiveship, be it about its technology, life inside it or the command hierarchy. We'll also get into some bits and pieces of other Wraith tech and society as well but we felt it best to focus on the hiveship to start since it's the central point to Wraith society and we know more about it than we do anything else.

    We hope that this thread will serve as a sort of living encyclopedia that documents what we have come to know/believe about hiveships, and some other side bits of Wraith tech, as the series progresses. Participation and discussion of these topics is strongly encouraged. Despite this grand thread of hugeness we're not here to lecture anyone about the right or wrong way to look at this. It's a sci-fi show with a lot of contradicting ifnormation so there's bound to be some differences of opnion. This is good for everyone so long as discussion remains civil, logical, based on canon evidence and aimed at arriving at the most likely or reasonable conclusion as opposed to pushing some sort of pro or anti Wraith agenda.

    If you feel that some portion of what follows doesn't quite sound right to you by all means speak up and articulate why. We're interested in getting a discussion going and fairly confidant that we can justify every conclusion that's made here so if you want to hear more about why we concluded X or Y by all means ask. That said if your complaint is going to ring to the tune of "it's just a TV show" please post in another thread not in a forum dedicated to discussing the fictional science and tech of Stargate. Yes everyone knows it's just a fictional TV show and you're not scoring any sort of cool points by pointing that out to us foolish misguided nerds.

    Ok on with the actual content.

    This is going to be divided up into a series of posts for organizational purposes. the idea is these posts will be edited when new information comes out, someone raises a point that merits changing something, or we all get sick of the font style. There's also going to be a few blank posts at the end of the series I'm about to post. DO NOT BE ALARMED, these are simply there to give space for future information that may need to be added to the main collection at the front as the thread grows. The reasoning behind this should be obvious. People who come to this thread looking for information would rather not have to read how ever many pages when they could instead just read everything condnsed cleanly into the first few posts.

    With that said lets get this show rolling.

    Global description

    The Wraith hiveship is one of the most impressive spaceships seen thus far.
    This giant craft fills both the roles of a warship and a colony. As such, it houses large numbers of Wraith, and holds large quantities of Darts, the Wraith's fighters, as well as an unknown quantity of other craft such as probes and scoutships.


    The ship looks like a rounded dagger, lenghty and rather flat considering the size ratios.

    Lenght: 10,983.04 m
    Width: 7,906.33 m
    Height: 1,291.39 m

    The sheer size of a hiveship makes it several times bigger than Atlantis.

    A hiveship literally dwarfing the Daedalus.

    Measurements from Allies (1, 2) based on Daedalus' dimensions displayed there.

    Life support

    The artificial atmosphere is recycled and distributed across the entirety of the ship by one main control system located in a room.
    There, CO2 is purified into breathable air. The Wraith do appear to share similar needs to ours.
    That room is located within the main bulk, between the two arms protruding on each side of the ship. The system itself is slightly off-axis on the right.

    Location of the air processor central chamber.

    As a necessity to the way of life the Wraith have been following for millenia since their victory against the Lanteans, they devised statis pods for hibernation between each cullings. Those specialized systems are embeded in the walls and roofs of dedicated rooms, and each one of them houses one Wraith specimen.

    A look at the ceiling, filled with statis pods.

    Power Generation

    What the hiveships get their power from is unknown. But fore sure, the power generation is high enough to let a 11 km long behemoth rotate fast enough in No Man's Land, or to let such a ship leave a planet's gravity.

    Locating the generators is another mystery, but shouldn't be located too far away from the engines.
    They could use a variety of materials, used in different ways. Fusion, fission or matter/antimatter reactions could be what powers those massive behemoths.
    The power requirements are vast. They have to supply the ship's life support, sensors, weapons, hyperdrives and engines, to speak of the most important systems.

    However, it is good to notice that by triggering off chain reactions from the explosion of certain internal systems, notably inside hangar bays filled with darts, it is possible to destroy a hiveship in its entirety, or even vaporize every single inch of its superstructure if the original explosion is already very powerful.
    We have seen that hiveships exploding on their own after severe internal chain reactions, notably in The Siege Part I (season 1), The Hive (season 2) and after a Lantean drone assault in No Man's Land (season 3).

    It is possible that the mysterious blue beam seen in Letters from Pegasus is related to the power sources. It's pure speculation, but hiveships might be able to drain the energy from planets, and store it in massive energy buffers.
    That would rather fit well with the vampiric aspect of the Wraith.

    Another theory is that a hiveship's hull could absorb surrounding energy, notably hyperspace radiations, which tend to enhance explosions to mind blowing scales.

    Locations of interest
    • Queen Throne and its entrance corridor (1, 2, 3, 4).
    • Ceremony hall (1, 2, 3, 4), with one of the two main corridors linked to that room (1).
    • Mess hall (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Seen in Rising, this is a piece of rest with a table. Stasis pods are also present in this room.
    • Prison cells (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). The walls are looking like thick webs of organic material which can fold in and out. Though a control panel on the side of these walls enables a manual activation (1), it seems that the Wraith don't even need to press any button.
    • Food chambers, cocoon alcoves (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Certainly part of the most numerous rooms to be found on a hiveship, possibly outnumbering the statis rooms themselves.
    • Computer core (1, 2, 3).
    • Personnal quarters (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Lieutnants, and likely Queens and Keepers, have personnal quarters.
    • Statis pods (1, 2, 3. Triangle statis pods are embedded within the roof of those chambers. Each cell houses a Wraith specimen, which sleeps in a foetal position. How a Wraith is supposed to reach those pods is unknown. Maybe an organic arm stretches down, maybe an anti gravitational field acts as an elevator, or maybe the cavern is in fact a dome, accessible from the otherside of the wall of pods, and covered with staircases and ladders.
    • Command deck (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). Several consoles can be accessed throughout the whole ship, but only those in the bridge give full control of the ship's main systems. Only most basic functions can be activated by humans, while Wraith gene is a necessity to get the other systems running.
    • Secondary navigation deck (1). Houses three consoles, with a holoprojector in its middle, displaying maps of the galaxy, hyperspace routes and exit points.
    Last edited by Ouroboros; 09 December 2006, 10:31 PM.


      Sublight propulsion

      The sublight propulsion systems relies on newtonian physics, with the rocket principle in place. The propellant in use there is unknwon.
      There are two racks of four horizontally aligned engines on each side of the stern queue, with the two middle ones being slightly smaller than the two others and being closer to each other. The closer to the center line each thruster is, the closer it is from the stern on the forward axis.

      The engines deliver enough thrust so that they can propel the ship through the accretion disk of a blackhole, with constant acceleration.

      Hiveship in orbit.
      Another view, while the hiveship approaches Atlantis.

      ***Acceleration capability estimation in progress***

      FTL propulsion

      The Wraith ships use hyperdrives as FTL (Faster Than Light) propulsion systems. They are of interstellar class, fast enough to cross large distances withing a small galaxy like Pegasus, but extremely slow when it comes to cross intergalactic voids.
      The hyperdrives are located in vulnerable spots, which can be reached by external flight and destroyed by low yields missiles. There are ventral hyperspace generators, located somewhere near the centre of the ship. Michael informed Sheppard that attacking them would be most effective. Does this mean that there are dorsal ones, but of less importance?
      This would explain why the Wraith choose to flee in Allies - since fighters breached their defense perimeter - prefering to fly to Earth instead of loosing their hyperdrives and being stuck in Pegasus.

      Engines still active while in hyperspace.
      Hiveships entering hyperspace.
      A hiveship leaving hyperspace.

      ***Maximum FTL velocity estimation in progress***



        • "Fireballs"
          - General-purpose direct energy projectiles.
          - Maximum theorical yield (per cannon): 7.7 gigatons.
          - Lower estimaed yield (per cannon): 460 megatons, fired by a damaged hiveship relying on less than 50% of its usual power generation capability.
        • "Falling Stars"
          - Focused and shiny draining projectiles.
          - Lower estimated draining yield (per cannon): 3.125 petatons (3.125 million gigatons), only against Lantean tech shield. Very low DET.

        Detailed description

        Thus far, we have been able to notice the existence of two different types of weapons.

        The main type of weapon, used most of the time thus far, shoots bolts which look like elongated blobs, or blue fireballs.
        They appear to contain hot matter, that can often result into explosions when hitting shields in vacuum.
        It would seem that like many other advanced races, those projectiles, which for unknown reasons, seem to happily ignore gravity, are self contained "bag" of explosive and highly energetic matter.

        A powerful energy bolt. Larger than the Daedalus' height.

        These weapons have been used at great lenghts in late engagements, especially against the Daedalus or other Wraith hiveships.
        Calculations from the bombardment seen in the episode Misbegotten show that the low end yield for each one of these bolt would be about a few gigatons, around 2.8 GT with a hiveship using less than 50% of its power, and therfore 5.6 GT when fully operational.

        In the episode The Hive, two hiveships were exchanging heavy fire in a hurry. The size of the bolts was significantly larger.
        Each bolt blew up large quantities of hull, and the targeting was relatively wide, instead of focusing on one single point at the enemy's hull.
        This is clearly demonstrating the superior yield of these bolts.
        Since these fireballs were dialed up, it was possible to estimate how much energy each one of these bolts would have a yield of 46.8 GT.
        It is not surprising, considering how fast these bolts destroyed the opposite hiveship.

        Two hiveships exchanging fire. Their cannons are dialed up to high levels.

        The reason why the weapons would not be used at such yield may be because they draw too much power, and fragilize systems, which in turn would make firepower estimation rather tricky, though this is pure extrapolation.
        It may just be a question of the crew generally prefering using less power for the cannons, and keep more of it for sudden acceleration and evasive moves.

        The number and location of the cannons is hard to determine. Thus far, we have not seen bolts being fired from the dorsal region of the ship, nor from the stern. Most bolts were fired from the edges and from inside the trenches, covering frontal and broadside firing arcs, and sometimes came from underneath, amidships.

        An example of low power and high velocity setting. The two hiveships are firing a dense barrage of low powered shots in the hope to disable the Daedalus before she raises her shields after jumping out of hyperspace. The velocity of these bolts is rather high.

        The theory is that velocity has a price in terms of energy, and the faster a bolt, the more energy you have to spend.
        The advantage of firing slow bolts might be explained by the idea that this saves more energy for other systems. That extra energy could even be used to enhance the bolt's power. Faster bolts would therefore deal less damage, unless more energy would be allowed to the destructive part of the bolt.

        In space warfare, where all motion is relative, trying to shoot down an enemy with slow bolts is delusional. It can only work if your target isn't located too far, and if it doesn't move that much from your point of view.
        That's why weapons either firing lightspeed beams, straight very focused particles beams at a decent percentage of c, or guided projectiles that can correct their trajectory are the only relevant and efficient weapons in space.

        So it is logical and fortunate that weapons could be modulated to fire faster bolts.


          weponry cont

          The other type of projectiles, dubbed "falling stars" due to their aspect (bright shiny bolts) and noise, have been used with much more parsimony. These weapons must have their own advantage. The projectiles themselves are relatively faster than their fireballs counterparts (though they can be fired in varians just as slow as the fireballs), and seem to leave smoky trails of matter behind them within the microseconds after firing.
          Yet, when hitting shields in atmosphere, like Atlantis' shield for example, they diffuse over the artificial barrier. Whether be it due to the type of gases they contain, they're still matter based.

          The "falling stars", fired by the Wraith fleet both against Atlantis and against the defense satellite. Notice how after firing fireballs earlier on in their first two engagements with the Daedalus, they switched to that type of weaponry when aiming at the Lantean city.

          The sound they produce is a kind of high pitched whistle.
          An important detail is that in the only two times such weapons were used, the bolts were only fired against Lantean structures: the satellite in Siege Part I, and Atlantis, in Siege Part III. Lantean structures are known for not being particularily strong, often relying on powerful shields.

          It's possible that this weapon exploits a weakness in Lantean technology, like anything related to shields, and it is possible that the Wraith thought that the satellite would be shielded.

          Either all Wraith ships possess the falling star technology, and then, we could theorize that this weapon is particularily relevant against unshielded targets and city-class shields (they have never been used against the Daedalus), or that not all Wraith ships possess that technology, which is fairly possible considering that the Wraith are territorial, and that the most prized secrets about their technology are only known by a handful Keepers.

          The second reason would explain why those weapons weren't used against the Orion in No Man's Land.

          It's logical that these special weapons were used here. Had the shield been finally drained, the last bolts that would have stroke the city would have not vaporized it (supported by evidence from episode Progeny), while the fireballs, with their gigatons of power, would have had in the blink of an eye. One would argue that the Wraith would have not fired the fireballs anywhere near max power, but then it would have been completely pointless firing at the shield at such a power level and ever hope to dent it.

          Though the falling stars do not possess a large amount of energy on their own, especially when looking at the destruction of the satellite (even if the structure was destroyed), they have however proven absolutely devastating against the Lantean shield, draining the sole (planet-busting capable) ZPM powering the whole city at a very fast rate. McKay estimated that the ZPM would be depleted within days, as less than a week.

          This fact supports the theory that these rather low DET weapons are specifically meant to weaken Lantean shields.
          Would this specific weapon prove useful against shield technologies from other races is unknwon, and their lack of use against the Daedalus would seem to argue that they don't even think it's worth the test.


            weponry cont II

            Last but not least, it is important to point out that hiveships come with efficient targetting computers.

            A demonstration of efficient targetting systems. Despite firing rather slow bolts, which in this case would only really be useful at close range, the hiveships is able to succesfully hit a Daedalus going in circles around the bigger threat at high angular velocities.

            Calculations: fireballs

            This is the part where you can learn how those numbers were obtained.
            Like always, there are many parameters to account for, but as always is science, notably equations, the goal is to try to simplify things, or at least, not make those things more complex than they should be.

            Several sources of observation have been used there.

            The assaults on Atlantis and its satellite in The Siege episodes.
            The dogfight between two hiveships in mid season 2's The Hive.
            The orbital bombardment executed by the captured and crippled hiveship, manned by Sheppard's team, and the attack by another fully operational hiveship coming to rescue Michael's group, in season 3's Misbegotten.

            Misbegotten is used to know the power of the fireballs. One of the best and most reliable ways to do this is to look at the extent of damage done on inert materials. The surface of a random and unhabitable planet would perfectly fit the bill here.
            Luckily, that is exactly what happened.

            We could see that Sheppard ordered McKay to fire at the refugees' camp, on the surface. At several occasions, McKay clearly mentionned the unreliable nature of the targeting system, not knowing if they would even be firing at the right spot.
            The salvos themselves weren't that much spread apart, but a mere difference of a few degress in the firing arc would lead to the impact zone ending several tens of kilometers away from the suited target. At the end of the episode, McKay could not confirm that they had properly hit the zone where the Wraith were located.

            By looking at the width of the explosion occuring at the surface, we could already have an idea of the level of destruction going on.
            By assuming that the targeted planet was Earth-like (a much smaller planet couldn't hold an atmosphere, even less a breathable one), we could know how large the explosions were in comparison.

            A montage, showing the size of the explosions in comparison to Earth. The initial screencap was at a very low resolution. Higher resolutions might make another analysis necessary, and either increase or decrease the figures.

            Using this calculator, we can determine the rough yield of such weapons.

            Wraith weapons would behave in a sufficiently similar way to nuclear strikes, when hitting the surface of a planet. Thus we can determine that producing such large ground fireballs would require the equivalent of 2.8 gigatons of energy.

            As the bombardment occured in a cloudless zone, it's impossible to claim that it's due to a trick of light diffused across cloud layers, and therefore completely irrelevant to any possible lightning bolts.

            With a crippled hiveship able to deliver an average global and minmal yield of 2.8 GT on a planet's surface during a bombardment, with less than 50% of power available for all its systems, a hiveship in good shape could theorically provide twice that amount of energy, at the very least (since we have no proof that they were putting 100% of the power generation into the cannons, and realistically, that is impossible, even more with a crippled ship and an "incompetent" and insufficient crew).
            Since Misbegotten points towards grouped salvos of half a dozen bolts, that's around 0.46 GT (460 MT) each bolt for Shep's piece of junk.

            It seems to take 1.5 seconds to fire a whole salvo. With six bolts over 1.5 seconds, that's four bolts per second.
            Thus 1.84 GT per second.
            This is what the damaged ship controled by Teyla was firing at the planet per second. It is a reliable average value.

            Now, a fully functiunal hiveship could easily double this number by being able to run its reactors near 100%, instead of being limited at less than 50%.
            So we can double the estimated yield, up to normal power levels, and we have a minimal yield of 1.84 GT per second for a fully operational hiveship.

            The enemy hiveship in Misbegotten fired around 5 bolts per second.
            Probably using all power available, it would be firing 4.6 GT per second (using the 460 MT figure from Sheppard' ship, doubled because the enemy ship would try to get rid of its target as fast as possible, thus likely running its reactors at 100%, and multiplied by the number of cannons, five in that case).

            The sequence inside the control room of the captured hiveship lasted 40 seconds, plus 8 more seconds of external view, with the hiveship starting to get seriously damaged and almost ready to blow up.
            Of course, Sheppard and co certainly needed more than 8 seconds to reach the puddle jumper. A hiveship is a big flying barn after all.
            Realistically, the puddle jumper would be sitting in one of the closest jumper bay, and consider the ship's sheer size, we cannot imagine our heroes reaching their vessel and fleeing far enough from the hiveship in less than 12 seconds.

            So the numbers below are called to change, once we will know where the closest landing bay is located to the control room.

            But for the moment, let's round that time to a one minute constant bombardment before destruction. We're absurdly far too conservative here, but nevermind.

            So 60 x 4.6 = 276 GT. Estimation of what was necessary to take down Sheppard's already damaged hiveship, with a rather evenly distributed wall of fire spread over the forward half of the starboard side.

            Misbegotten part 5 of 5, The Hive space battle.


              weaponry cont III

              Now let's look at season 2's The Hive.

              In this space battle, it took 12 seconds for the first hive to be blown apart.
              Using Misbegotten's captured hiveship as a yardstone, and noticing that the hiveships were trying to hit as many zones as possible, we get the following estimation:
              276 GT / 12 s = 23 GT/s.

              So the enemy hiveship was firing a total of 23 GT per second. With an average rate of fire of 3 giant fireballs per second, it's 7.7 GT per superbolt.
              More than sixteen times more powerful than a low yield bolt, and this is based on the resistance of a hiveship's hull that was already damaged.

              That's of course below the real low end, since all calculations rely to some degree on observation from the captured hiveship in Misbegotten, which was already severaly damaged, and that's all about the "fireball" DET bolts. Plus they are based on a bombardment duration that is far below what should be a true low end.

              It is nice to note that in the episode Progeny, while Sheppard's mind was probed by Oberoth, and lured into a virtual reality emulating an attack from seven Wraith hiveships, the fictive McKay exchanged the following words with Doctor Weir:

              WEIR: Maybe the Wraith will take care and destroy the city for us.
              MCKAY: If they wanted to vaporize the city, they'd have done it already!
              That was a few seconds after the attack started. Though this was not the reality, it was theorized that this was based on the knowledge of each character. In that case, Sheppard's own, largely enhanced by what McKay constantly fed him for years about Wraith technology and abilities, and formerly based on Sheppard's own military experience regarding Wraith weaponry, as the chief of military operations on Atlantis.
              It is even more interesting since it follows the events of Misbegotten, where Sheppard and his team had one of the best oportunities in their whole life time to realize by themselves how powerful Wraith cannons are.
              Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this would be supported by a series of events recreated from his own memories, especially the freshier ones.

              Side musings

              In The Siege Part III, we have seen that each hiveship is flanked by at least two cruisers.
              However, those cruisers do seem to fire twice less bots. So we can say that 2 cruisers = one hive ship in that case, in terms of number of cannons used.
              After all, it's not surprising. A cruiser is closer to a purely anti capital ship vessel than those multipurpose hiveships.

              Therefore, we obtain the simple equation: 1 Hiveship = 2 cruisers = 4.6 GT/s.

              If the Wraith fleet has used the fireballs, instead of the falling stars, to attack Atlantis, here is what they could have pumped into the Lantean shield:
              4.6 x 2 x 10 (hiveships left), or 92 gigatons total per second.

              Over eight hours (estimated bombardment duration between dusk and dawn), that's 2,649,600 GT, or nearly 2.65 petatons (<- based on the absolute, utmost and overconservative low end estimation of the total energy left in the ZPM by the time the bombardment started, which again depends on the idea that the destruction of the planet in Critical Mass was the most destructive event that could ever be achieved by ZPM overload, which is not sure given the evidence in Progeny).

              Some people will point out at Condemned or Sateda, and claim that this is the real wraith firepower. Frankly, those shots were measured up to several tens of scriptatons, literally weakened for the sake of the plot. In the end remains undisputable figures, while the lower ones can easily be explained by motives and dialed down weaponry.


                weponry cont IV

                Calculations: falling stars

                Estimating their yield is an act that largely relies on the amount of energy the ZPM still had by the time Atlantis was attacked.
                Months later (universe wise), we learn in Critical Mass (season 2) the following information:

                WEIR: So the dialling of Earth would cause the ZeePM to overload.

                McKAY: Oh, yeah! And given that dialling another galaxy requires tremendous amounts of power, we’re talking catastrophic overload. I mean, the explosion would destroy not just the city, but, uh, most likely the entire planet.
                There are several interpretations possible. Most of them are dependant of the notion of what destroy means, while a minority requires extra mental composition of several factors which are all down to subjectivity.

                The vast majority of definitions say this: to ruin completely, to spoil, to separate virulently, to demolish, to bring to naught, to annihilate, to consume, to destruct, to erase, to tear down or break up, put and end to (...), to lay waste, to raze, to dismantle, to desolate, to devastate, to kill.
                They're all pointing to the absolute devastation of the planet, some of them literally suggesting the complete disappearance of the planet as a whole, without the necessity of specifying that the planet's entirety is at stake.

                Only one defines to destroy as to render something useless, which is highly dependant of the context. The context here is to know McKay had in mind.
                This is, however, asking for rampant speculation and endless arguing, some people believing that he was talking about the estimated destruction of assets that were immediately relevant to the terran team in the near future, a kind of reasoning that doesn't seem neither natural, nor instinctive, while other go for a much simpler interpretation, more faithful to McKay's depressive habits, that is, an absolutely cataclysmic and dramatic event.
                The former interpretation is convoluted, and makes any use of the word destroy largely more complex than necessary, which is a bad thing to do.
                Let's take an example, such as the episode Trinity:

                WEIR: ... putting your life and other people's lives at risk. You destroyed three quarters of a solar system!

                McKAY: Well, five sixths. It's not an exact science.
                Not bothering to correct Weir on the use of the term destroy, McKay nitpicks on the yield of the explosion.
                Would it mean, for example, that the star system could be considered destroyed once the Arcturus device on Doranda would be destroyed, the sun extinguished, and the only planet with a breathable atmosphere burned to ashes?
                What about the rest of the star system, the other planets? Not destroyed, since they were of no use to the human expedition team? Does only one planet plus a sun correspond to 5/6 of a stellar system now?
                Yes, just as much as a music concert is certainly about one band playing on stage and only one fan to represent the public, say two fans if you want to nitpick that a concert can only be considered as such if there is a crowd.
                As you can see, this is infinitely ludicrous.

                That is not even saying that the definition of the verb destroy, by making something become useless, is hardly found on every dictionary out there. Plus, just to be extreme, to render a planet useless in its entirety could be understood as each single bit of matter available would represent a potentially exploitable asset there.

                So, basically, to cut off to that whole carnival of heavily subjective interpretations, the most simple choice to make is to look at the meaning of the words themselves and as a whole, and take them objectively.
                With the vast majority of those definitions simply pointing to cataclysmic levels of destruction, supported by the fact that the entirety of the planet is concerned there, the most simple and fair assumption is that, at least (and that's conservative) every bit of life on that planet would be annihilated, no matter where it lies.

                Please consider that, initially, we are not even considering the idea of a Death Star like destruction. However, as you'll see, it can't be otherwise.

                But let's even pretend that we're just talking about massive surface destruction, while the whole planet's body will remain, dead. We first need to send the planet's atmosphere into space beyond gravity range, or at least put it on fire, vaporize all oceans (and that's a great task for such planet like the one Atlantis is floating on) and glass the whole surface down to several kilometers deep, to be sure that no subterranean bacteria survives.
                Oh yeah, and that is not even destroying a planet in its entirety.
                But this already means tremendeous levels of energy.

                The question was, how do you spoil an entire planet's biosphere, going by the massive destruction definition (not the super cataclysmic one)? How do you expect ruining it?

                You sure have to spend a lot of energy to be sure that not a single organism survives. That means a level of energy that will be beyond complete ocean vaporization, but also melting the crust to unknown depths as long as any subterranean bacteria dies.

                This, again, would not necessarily involve the aforementionned levels of energy, if the said energy was evenly distributed all over the surface, say by a coordinated orbital bombardment from a fleet of ships, or from a sun engulfing the whole planet during a supernova.

                The problem here is that we don't have the luxury of a well planned orbital bombardment, nor the advantage of a nearby sun going nova.
                Not only I suspect this source, estimating the amount of energy to overcome gravity and to destroy a planet being around 50 zettatons to boot (again, for an Earth sized planet), as being based on an model of an even dispatchment of each joule of energy over every single bit of matter in the planet, but we're dealing with a single detonation here, and at the surface of the planet, not in the core.
                That is, a reaction which, although being rather violent, will be most unefficient.

                So this poses a problem, because how do you expect to send energy to other side of the planet to melt the crust and vaporize the oceans, as the energy released by the explosion will radiate omnidirectionally?
                Eventually, a massive explosion would be enough to set the whole atmoshpere on fire, and with the work of gravity, keep that wall of flame around the planet, increasing the surface temperature by several hundreds of degrees. Enough to vaporize every ocean on the long term.
                But that's not enough to melt the surface to any necessary depth.
                No mystery here. The planet is going to act like a solid rock shield. Even if an important quantity of energy is transmitted across the all encompassing atmosphere, the energy will have to go through the planet to really destroy the crust so that the toughest and deepest single living organism will be definitively annihilated.

                So even if you plan to only "ruin" the entirety of a planet with a "simple" omnidirectional bomb, you have no other choice but to blast it apart anyway.

                This also raises another point. Such an unefficient method of delivery, so to speak, means that far less than half of the energy will be sent towards the planet and destroy it. The rest will radiate into space and do nothing at all.

                So 50 zettatons is only a percentage of the total explosion's yield, obviously less than 50%, as we're talking about a round object.

                The bare minmum low end figure would be far more than 100 zettatons.

                Which makes the total planetary destruction the low end figure.

                Once we know the lowest possible amount of energy contained in a ZPM, we can revert to The Siege Part III to see how powerful the Wraith guns were.

                McKAY: The shield's holding under the bombardment but it's under incredible strain.

                WEIR: How long will it hold?

                McKAY: Well, if they stop firing it'll last almost indefinitely but ...

                WEIR: Are we talking months, weeks?

                McKAY: Days. At this rate the Zed P.M will be depleted within days.
                Interpretating McKay's "days" comment, that is, in opposition to a month or even a week, we can assume that the maximum plausible duration would be 6 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds (just to be conservative), thus a total of 530,799 seconds. But at this point, it's just quickier to say a week.
                So technically, the right figure would probably sit between two and six days.
                We'll take six days, for conservative purposes.

                The longer that timeframe, the lower the firepower estimate. We're searching a low end figure here.

                So how much energy was there when McKay provided his figure in Siege part III?
                According to Critical Mass, we know there was at least enough energy to destroy the planet in its entirety.
                Considering that in Zero Hour, even Lee's conservative figure stated that only 50% of a ZPM would be enough to destroy a planet, we're looking at a minimal level of energy of 200 zettatons.

                Carter's figure would actually mean that a ful ZPM would probably hold an amount of energy close to two supernovas. Please keep that in mind while you'll use the low end figures.


                  weponry cont V

                  Now, the calculations.

                  6 days is 518,400 seconds.

                  Quickly, this gives a total ZPM draining yield of 385.8 petatons per second (we'd get 1157.41 exatons per second if we used a two days timeframe).

                  When inputed into the number of ships involved in the orbital bombardment, and looking at their rate of fire (close to six "falling star" bolts per second for a hiveship, and twice less for a cruiser), we get for 10 hiveships and 20 cruisers (6 x 10 + 3 x 20), a ZPM/shield draining yield of 3.215 PT per cannon.

                  It was argued that the Lantean shield is not particularily efficient in terms of energy consumption, so that even low powered bolts would drain massive quantities of energy out of the ZPM.

                  This is shown wrong. McKay made it clear that a shield could remain switched on indefinitely as long as it wasn't under incredible strain.
                  An unefficient system would leak large quantities of energy, even not under any major strain. The Lantean shield does not.
                  The other proof is that with the power of a few lightning bolts, the shield was already able to fully protect the city from a freak wave higher than most of the city's buildings.
                  In the end, if it was true, McKay would have probably been particularily concerned by the act of exploding a multi megaton nuke just above the city's shield (The Siege Part III).
                  In the end, it's only a call to add more unnecessary hypothesis about the working of a device, while the point is actually to slim it to the most simple concept. See Occam's Razor.

                  There is another extremely important detail to remember: there is absolutely no certainty that the overloading ZPM (in Critical Mass) would have released all of its energy during the explosion.

                  Episode Progeny (season 3) has finely demonstrated that overloading ZPMs does not equal complete ZPM depletion.
                  After all, three overloading ZPMs, used to power the star drives, hyperdrive and shields of the asuran cityship, and about to power up the weapons, only destroyed it in a rather modest way:

                  The initial stage of the explosion.
                  The puddle jumper had no problem escaping this.
                  Almost just a spec in the sky. That was three overloaded ZPMs blowing up.

                  Considering the known ZPM power levels, that couldn't even account for one total percent of three ZPMs combined, so they're just no where to claim that they were near total depletion. And what assault plan would that be to send a ship with almost completely depleted power sources?
                  In comparison, Cadman estimated that the saboteur (in Critical Mass) had a plan to take down the two Wraith cruisers along the city. Two ships that would remain in high orbit of the planet, and which did. That requires a significant amount of power, which supports the planetary destruction claim.

                  Another interesting revelation comes from the episode McKay and Mrs. Miller, where we learn that the ZPM was still more than 50% full. Though incidentally, it does not influence the calculation above, it would if we'd have assumed that a full ZPM had enough energy to destroy the solar system twice.
                  Remember the tainted ZPM Camulus gave to the SGC in Zero Hour. It was half full, and Carter's final estimation, after looking at Lee's calculations, was that the ZPM would have destroyed the solar system, which is often simplified to yields similar to supernovas, if not hypernovas.

                  Some people objected that the tainting chemicals used to booby trap the ZPM were largely responsible of the yields claimed by Lee and Carter, without realizing how unlikely that would be. Those unknown materials could not even represent 0.0001% of the destructive yields, otherwise, they'd be even far more powerful than tonnes of naqahdah or even naqahdria. With such a power in his hands, a Goa'uld Lord like Camulus would have never been scratching the bottom of the hierarchy like he did. He would have even easily ripped through Anubis' entire fleet with a couple of superships.

                  Basing the calculations on more than the yield of a supernova would dramatically increase the draining power of the falling stars.
                  They are based on the planet busting base level because despite the amount of evidence for supernova levels, it has not enough weight yet. We need something more than just Carter's corrections on Lee's equations... though when you think about it, the planet busting figure is only supported by dialogue thus far. It has just more dialogue support.
                  So very little is missing to jump to the higher figure.

                  Anyway, with such depletion rates, even when talking about planetary destruction only, a question remains. Where does this energy go?
                  It may be possible that it leaks in another unreachable subspace region, or another dimension, but that's tied to how lantean tech works.



                    The Wraith dart is a small single man aerospace craft fielded in great numbers by the wraith. It is capable of atmospheric speeds in excess of 10,000kph and is by far the most commonly encountered Wraith craft, seeming to account for the majority of a typical hiveship's airwing. It is a sublight only craft, possessing no hyperdrive or other apparent means of FTL travel. It is reletively lightly armed, sporting only a single rapid firing wraith "blaster" type wepon near the front and a culling beam that is used to further the dart's primary purpose, that of gathering human prey for the Wraith hiveship. The culling beam operates by means of some sort of matter to energy conversion process which ends in human prey being stored in a sort of battery within the dart itself. This process itself is curious because not only would it result in a massive amount of energy being stored within the dart, a single 200 pound man for example would contain 3904 megatons were he converted entirely to energy. Darts however regularly scoop up people in the low dozens meaning this buffer surely must actually be capable of holding far more than this. The existence of this technology also calls into question why the Wraith need worry about food shortages at all. Once a human has been converted into enegy (and the instructions to reassemble him into a human presumably stored in some sort of computer on the dart) Couldn't the Wraith just copy one human's information a million times? They'd need to pay the cost in enegy but if they have the template saved in the computer system there's theoretically nothing stopping them from transforming another 3904megatons of energy into a second identical 200 pound man, and a third and a fourth and a...

                    We know that this is entirely within their capabilities since they've already demonstrated the ability to generate gigaton level energies in the weapon systems of a ship operating at only half power.

                    Also, take a moment to think about the amount of computer processing power that would be required to scan and save the complete atmoic-level assembly instructions of an entire human being in the mere split second he is dissassembled by a culling beam.

                    As a final note on culling beams it's also worth pointing out that they are not limited to organic matter as is somtimes believed. People swept up are taken along with their clothing as well as metallic objects like firearms and assorted equipment they were carrying. Extrapolating logically this would effectively mean that there's nothing to stop a culling beam's use against other inert targets as well, be they starship hulls, vehicles or buildings that need to be removed. It also begs the question why the Wraith don't manufacture equipment in this manner. If they can dissassemble and reassemble a rifle in a split second via a culling beam than theoretically a culling beam with a proper template and an adequate power source could manufacture scores of rifles, or any other needed item, in a matter of seconds. We've yet to actually see how the Wraith do build their equipment and ships though so, though it remains speculation at this stage, this very well may be it.


                    The Wraith scoutship is a rarely seen small shuttle like vessel about which little is known. It appears to have sufficient space to carry a dozen or so Wraith as well as its own hyperdrive. Weaponry remains a question mark but given the aggressive behaviour dislayed by the scoutship in "Aurora" some form of capital scale weaponry is strongly implied. This is interesting because it represents the possability that a hiveship might be Stargate's first true "Carrier" type warship, able to attack other ships in other parts of the galaxy via wings of scoutships it launches, much like a modern aircraft carrier would do with its fighters. While this has yet to be seen if the ships are armed and hyperspace capable, both of which seem to be the case, there's absolutely nothing stopping it from being implimented save a lack of Wraith imagination and a possible shortage of scoutships.


                      Hive ship fighter capacity

                      Ok so now that we know about the two main types of craft a hiveship carries, just how many does it carry?

                      Well to answer that question we first need to get some idea of how much internal space an individual craft needs dart needs and how much of the internal space in a hiveship is available. For the purposes of this calculation we'll use darts because they're far more common than scoutships and they're what everyone's more familiar with.

                      First off lets look at the hiveship itself.

                      Ok we know from comparisons to the Daedalus and other threads here that the hiveship is roughly 11Km in length and about half that in width. Since we're going for a conservative estimate though we'll assume that only one cubic kilometer total of the hive's internal volume is devoted to hosting darts. This is a pretty good, if somewhat conservative estimate.

                      Also keep in mind that one cubic kilometer is not meant to imply that there exists a single large 1 cubic kilometer hanger someplace on the ship of nimitx density, only that in total roughly one cubic kilometer of floor space is being given over to darts. The space that makes up that cubic kilometer that is "effectively used" for dart storage could, and likely is, divided and speckled around amongst a number of bays, some of which might be largely empty and far less densely packed than a Nimitz deck. This number is just meant to give a sense of scale to the hiveship that is sometimes not appreciated. Even when we take a miniscule fraction of its available internal volume and devote it to fighter storage, you'll see that the results are still quite dramatic.

                      Ok so how many darts can we fit in that single cubic kilometer. Well to find out that we're once again going to need to do some guesswork but since we're keeping it conservative we'll try to figure out what modern tech would be able to do with a similar amount of space.

                      Ok the Nimitz class aircraft carrier is 332.85 meters long 76.8 meters wide at the flight deck and 40.84 meters in beam/height.


                      The Nimitz can hold 85 modern aircraft and the equipment and fuel required to service and maintain them.

                      With that in mind how many Nimitzes can we fit into that cubic kilometer of hiveship.

                      Well we can get three in end to end lengthwise, 13 in side by side and 25 stacked on top of each other. In the end we end up with a slightly smaller than 1 cubic KM block that contains a total of 975 Nimitz class carriers.

                      Now these are whole carriers mind you, including the parts of them that aren't necessarily devoted to serving the aircraft.

                      The result of this simple, and somewhat conservative calculation is a total dart compliment estimate of 82,875 planes.

                      We made several consessions in the analysis that results in the number being a low end estimate to.

                      -we only used 1 cubic kilometer of an 11km long hiveship for dart hangers

                      -Modern planes are physically larger than darts and require stores of jetfuel and solid ammunition/missiles/bombs that darts do not.

                      -Much of a modern aircraft carrier's deck is taken up by the runway which is obviously not used to store planes.

                      -We're assuming that each deck that holds darts inside the Wraith ship is going to be as high as an entire modern aircraft carrier as opposed to just the part of the carrier that actually deals with the planes. This wastes more space that would almost certainly not be wasted in real life.

                      -Our carrier cube wasn't even quite 1 full cubic km in size

                      All in all if you were less generous with some of these concessions you could probably easily triple or more that 82,875 number and still remain well within the realm of the reasonable.

                      They're huge ships. Think about how many cars can be parked in a typical city using only a single ground level and maybe a few elevated parking structures (as opposed to a hiveships full 3 dimensions) and "only" 80,000 darts will start to sound rather low to you as well.

                      Darts or scouts as deadly attackers?

                      While darts and scouts are generally thought of as largely puny craft with limited offensive capability it's interesting to notice that this may not be the case, at least not when we're dealing with ancient supply ships.

                      The above picture is of the atlantis "Radar map" in the main control room during the time of the ancient siege. The episode is "Before I sleep" and the scenario is that an ancient supply ship attempting to run the Wraith blockage has somehow been detected and is now under attack.

                      You'll notice from the picture above that there are 3 sizes of blip on the radar screen which would logically represent three distinct sizes of ship. Given that we know hiveships were present during the Atlantis siege, we can go on to infer that the largest dots represent hiveships, which would then lead us to the conclusion that the next largest size are likely cruisers. The smallest size is where things get interesting, because they're the dots that seem to actually be attacking the ancient ship. If you listen to the audio track of the episode you can also hear what sounds like dart fire over the intercom (leaving aside for a moment the fact that we shouldn't be hearing ANYTHING in space of course ). While this incident is far from concrete it does strongly suggest the possability that an ancient supply ship, which we know was equipped with shields and was large enough to cary 300 people, was destroyed in literally a matter of seconds by either darts or scoutships, whatever you want to call those smaller dots.
                      Last edited by Ouroboros; 06 December 2006, 08:12 PM.



                        In addition to being a formidable weapon a war a hiveship also serves as a mobile space colony vessel for the Wraith civilization. Every type of Wraith thus seen seems to be found on a hiveship, each filling an important role in the ship?s operation.

                        All Wraith share some common traits. They are for all intents and purposes immortal and feed on the mysterious ?lifeforce? of humans through secondary mouths or suckers in the palms of their hands. They are also capable of varying degrees of regeneration and possess physical strength far in excess of that present in humans. Most subtypes also display some psychic ability and all types can make use of a universal telepathic hivemind for communication, both long and short ranged.

                        Of interesting note also is an apparent discrepancy in physical strength between males and females that does not scale with bodyweight or size as would be expected. Females, despite being physically slighter in stature than males, seem to also be much stronger, possessing physical strength that exceeds that of even the heavily muscled soldier drone males. This can be seen in episodes like No Mans Land where a hivequeen effortlessly lifts major Lourne into the air with a single outstretched arm. Contrast this with Lieutenant Ford?s more or less even struggle on the walkway with a male Wraith drone in siege and it would appear that Wraith males, despite their greater body mass, generally lack the strength of Wraith females. If the females are stronger due to simple biological superiority, like muscle density, or because they somehow use the Wraith telekinesis powers to augment their strength is unknown. The one exception to this trend would also seem to be the Wraith lord seen in Sateda who seemed to have strength even greater than that of a female. If telekinetic boosting is to blame it?s possible that this Wraith male was able to attain such high apparent strength by learning to augment his existing strength with telekinesis in a similar way to a hivequeen.

                        Male human Wraith: The male human form Wraith is a Wraith of similar size and build to an average human male in good physical condition. Distinguishing Wraith features include catlike eyes, finger talons instead of nails, gray, tan or greenish colored skin, long white hair and small ?viper pits? in the cheeks. These structures appear on all types of Wraith with the exception of the soldier type but as of yet their true purpose remains unknown. It has however been suggested in some pre-development material that they are heat sensors for locating prey, hence the term viper pits. By far the most common type of Wraith seen aboard hiveships the male human form Wraith appear to perform the vast majority of the day to day work that is required to operate the hiveship. They are scientists, engineers, pilots and likely gunners and helmsmen as well. The male human Wraith are capable of limited psychic feats most notably the creation of ?illusions? to trick prey or attackers. However, several males combining their powers together are able to communicate over interstellar distances. Very early examples of Wraith males also displayed prominent telekinetic powers, though these powers have been suspiciously absent since. Perhaps the single male that displayed them in Rising had been specially trained or augmented somehow by the hivekeeper he served?

                        Soldiers/Drones: The drones appear to be the second most common type of Wraith on board a hiveship but are still far outnumbered by the male human type. Drones seem to only be good for a few things; hunting prey and defending the hive when it is under attack being chief among them. In situations where such talents are not required the drones can be seen simply standing around acting as security guards on the hiveships. The soldiers are physically larger than the human form males by a considerable amount, being superior in both sheer size and muscle development. Unique to the soldier class is also the ?bone plate? which seems to entirely replace the human-like face found on other Wraith. It is still in contention whether or not this bone plate is a natural part of the soldier?s body or some additional piece of bio technology that is added on later or worn as a helmet. The fact that soldiers are never seen to be without the bone plate, even when aboard their own hiveship, however leads one to the conclusion that the bone plate is permanently affixed in some fashion, or at least can not be easily removed. The season 1 episode childhood?s end also showcased the decomposed skeleton of a Wraith soldier including the skull with bone plate still fixed into place over the face. Soldiers have yet to clearly display any psychic ability aside from use of the hivemind through which they communicate with other Wraith.

                        Lords/Kings: The recent episode Sateda showcased what seemed to be a new type of wraith. A large human male type with a build comparable or even larger than that of a soldier type but lacking the bone plate and with physical strength greater than that displayed by any other Wraith. At this point it is unknown whether or not this single Wraith actually represents a new subtype of Wraith or if he was simply a human male type of exceptional size or a soldier without his faceplate. In either case he was in command of an entire hiveship of other Wraith. Unlike a hivequeen or keeper however he did not seem to be capable of using any psychic powers, even relying on a monitoring probe to watch Ronon Dex rather than the hivemind link of his hunters. This could potentially be taken as support for the idea that he was a soldier without a faceplate.

                        Hive queens: Hivequeens are one of the rarest types of Wraith encountered, second only to hivekeepers in rarity. They are all females of larger than what would be considered average size for a human female. Their colouration seems to vary to a far greater extent than it does in other wraith and they all possess advanced psychic powers far superior to those typically displayed by males. Hivequeens are for example able to psychically paralyze or restrain human prey, rendering them helpless to fight back, as well as being capable of psychically forcing individuals to divulge information to them. There?s also some evidence from ?the hive? that suggests they may be capable of inserting images or at least speaking psychically into the mind of humans and potentially other aliens as well. Despite their name it is unknown what role if any these rarely occurring female Wraith play in the Wraith reproductive process. Their sheer rarity in comparison to males would seem to preclude the notion of a conventional human or mammalian style reproductive process. The entire Wraith reproductive process is at this point an unknown. What is known about Hivequeens however is that they are seemingly born to lead the hordes of soldiers and human male Wraith that form the crew of a hiveship. Each hive will only have a single queen that rules it from a specially designated queen?s chamber. It is unknown by what means a new hive is started and what role the queen plays in creating it. We do however know that hivequeens are born as children and grow to adulthood in more or less exactly the same fashion a human would, as seen in instinct. We don?t however know how or what they are actually born from, or if this process of birth and maturing is something that they share in common with other Wraith or something else which makes them stand out as unique. Hivequeens are also evidently immune to the retro virus that effects males and soldier type Wraith, turning them human. This immunity points to the possability of significant differences in their genetic code or biology that would seem to exceed those specific only to gender.

                        Hive keepers: Hive keepers are the caste of Wraith that we know the least about. To date only one hivekeeper has been seen, the red haired female Wraith from the pilot episode rising. At this point however we have no idea to what extent other hivekeepers resemble her. She was peculiar for a Wraith, having several features of note that are not present on other females. First and most obvious would be her colouration. The strange purple/blue skin tone and especially the red hair is something that has yet to be repeated. Other differences include far more developed hands and accompanying talons than a typical Wraith female, a manner of dress that seemed to deviate significantly from anything displayed on other Wraith and an apparent degree of psychic prowess yet to be equaled by another Wraith female. Whether one or more of these features are used to distinguish a hive keeper from an ordinary hivequeen however is not known. We know from Allies that one of the roles of hivekeepers is to retain detailed knowledge of Wraith technology. The Wraith male in allies states that there are certain types of damage only a keeper will know how to repair. Even this is suspect information however since the Wraith divulging the information was only feigning co-operation to lay the groundwork for a later betrayal. He also says that the keepers have made their alliances in the current Wraith civil war. This leads one to believe that the alliance of hive keepers is something valuable to the various Wraith tribes. It would also suggest that the keepers operate outside the ordinary boundaries of the Wraith clan structure to a degree; likely selling their allegiance and technical support to which ever clan can best compensate them.


                          Communications systems, sensors and Probes

                          Scout Probe

                          Thus far only seen in the season 1 episode "Childhood's end" the Wraith scoutprobe is a roughly torso sized circular object which seems to be equipped with some sort of unique reactionless drive technology as well as an automated artificial brain. It also seems to have it's own DHD, much like a dart, though it appears to lack the weaponry and offensive systems present on that larger craft, likely relying on it's considerable speed and agility for protection. The probe's function is much the same as that of the SGC's MALP only far more advanced. It is sent through a stargate to gather sensor readings and intelligence about the other side at which point it apparently returns through the gate to report this data back to it's mothership. It is exceedingly fast, displaying extreme accelerration and manuveraility as it flys through the air.

                          Camera Probe

                          The camera probe used in Sateda to Track Ronon seemed to be more or less just a smaller more limited version of the Scout probe seen previously. It is about half to a third of the size, not as apparrently fast and seems to only transmit a visual data feed back to it's orbiting mothership. Whether it can also dial a gate like the scoutprobe is unknown but seems unlikley given it's miniscule size and seemingly limited AI capability.

                          Hiveship Sensors

                          The only real feat of note in the series thus far has oddly enough come from SG1 rather than SGA. In the episode Pegasus project a Wraith hiveship detects a sub 20megaton nuclear explosion instantly from a distance of many lightyears even though said detonation took place next to a black hole. Since the light from the nuclear explosion only travels at lightspeed it should theoretically have taken it however many lightyears the hiveship was away for the light to reach any sensors it may have had and be detected. Since it obviously happened a lot faster than that the Wraith must have some means of faster than light sensor technology, and given the small amount of energy/light released by the bomb reletive to nearby stars and distorted by the black hole, those sensors must be frightfully percise.

                          The Wraith hivemind

                          The Wraith hivemind is a curious thing. It's not true "group thought" in the sense that all Wraith think as one and can hear each other all the time. It seems rather more like a sort of biological radio or telephone. You can call someone on it over long distances and they can even refuse to answer.

                          Of note in relation to hiveships though is that it can be used as a means of communication over interstellar distances. This is mind blowing because it means that the Wraith have naturally evolved some sort of entirely biological faster than light communication and signal propegation method. The deathknell of the hivekeeper from Rising rang out over an entire galaxy and Michael and his group of Wraith males were able to communicate with a hiveship that was still many hours away at hyperdrive speeds by means of some sort of ritual in the woods. Even Teyla, who possesses but a miniscule fraction of Wraith DNA is able to use the hivemind to see through the eyes of Wraith in a hiveship many lightyears away. To say that this natural innate ability would give their species substantial advantages in any sort of large organised conflict would be quite an understatment.


                            Defense systems

                            Though the Wraith do master shielding technology to various extents (like the Wraith shield integrated to the puddle jumper by a Wraith in The Defiant One, or the simple existence of a completely artificial protective canopy on darts), the hiveships completely lack decent shield generators and projectors.

                            While shields become completely pointless against Lantean weaponry, and thus explains why they are not mounted on hiveships, this only serves the humans' best interests because of their reliance on more primitive weaponry.

                            Caldwell's cuning tactic. As we can see there, the lack of shields proves desastrous for the hiveship, as the Daedalus fires its railguns at the newly opened entrances of the hiveship's hangar bays. This results into massive secondary explosions, largely damaging the Wraith ship from the inside as darts are rushing out.

                            Instead, the Wraith capital ships count on a solid armor for their sole mean of direct protection against enemy attacks. This armor appears to be able to withstand massive amounts of direct energy.

                            The true most impressive mean of innovative and avanced defense the Wraith actually displayed has been the capacity to jam asgard beaming technology, both inside and outside of a hiveship. Though the range has yet to be determined, it is obvious that it extends far away enough to make a remote nuclear attack useless due to the square loss of energy over the distance.

                            We learned from Micheal that this technology predates the Civil War among the Wraith, which likely started shortly after all the Wraith woke up, realizing that food supplies were coming short.

                            In theory, it is possible that the jamming technology could have been derived from a technology meant to, at first, contain materialization and dematerialization reactions within artificial containment fields. Then, with slight modifications applied here and there, the Wraith may have noticed that the field could be cast over a larger range, and block those reactions on a large zone.

                            This jamming technology has a weakness however. It can be nullified within the close proximity to a black hole, just as much as sensors are jammed. Be the technology related to the sensors, it is conceivable. The cause of this might be due to the black hole's radiations, or by the more powerful gravity waves.


                              Other Musings

                              Sunken city strategy: benefits?

                              With those fireballs carrying some serious amounts of energy (low gigatons), sinking the city at such a low depth would have proved absolutely pointless. Had the whole ten hiveships, escorted by their own cruisers, fired at the ocean below, they would have been unleashing thousands of gigatons of energy per second. Needless to say that vast amounts of ocean would be utterly vaporized and pushed away, and the city would have, one day or another, been lying on a hot and dried ex-seabed.

                              The point here is trying to make sense of the idea that a thin layer of the ocean would provide a significant protection over a long period, when only a fleet of ten hiveships and their respective cruisers could have a ZPM be drained by tens of petatons per second.

                              Now, the difference of weapons and yields would actually explain why the Lanteans thought sinking the city would prove temporarily useful, even when lying on a near-surface seabed (all relative that is).

                              With the falling stars being extremely powerful to drain ZPMs when hitting Lantean shields, but not being particularily powerful on their own, with a low DET capability, it would seem logical to seek protection from relatively dense barriers, like an ocean of water for example.

                              There must be a significant gain of protection if the Lanteans thought that sinking the city would prove that advantageous, and the only explanation is that the fireballs shot by the Wraith, no matter how powerful (which would only drain several gigatons of energy per second), are entirely negligible in comparison to the amount of energy the falling stars would make a shield drain from its relative power source.

                              The shiny bolts would almost immediately get diffused at impact with the ocean, and never reach the city.
                              This would be a perfect weapon in space, but not in atmosphere. Even less in water.

                              On the other hand, the Wraith would have to switch to the more DET balanced bolts, but since they're "only" in the gigaton range, this would never pose a problem to a city powered by a full ZPM, let alone three of them.
                              A rain of those gigaton bolts would certainly vaporize large amounts of water, but would just tickle the shield.
                              They could have vaporized the whole ocean, but it would have densified the atmosphere then, thus likely making a falling star bolt deplete all of its power through atmospheric leaking before even touching the city's shield.

                              In the end, the Wraith didn't insist destroying or capturing the city after their former occupants left. The Lantean decision also appears as symbolic.