From an email posted to Baen's Bar Honorverse dated September 14, 2004:

Powered missile pods

    As far as the notion of a powered pod is concerned, I think people are going a bit too far afield in just what they think these things can do. They aren't SBMHAWK pods from StarFire… and they aren't going to morph into them, either. Even leaving aside any desire on my part to differentiate between the tactical menus available in the two separate literary universes, there are very significant technical reasons (in the Honorverse) why it really isn't practical. Fitting an impeller drive into a pod would require all sorts of engineering changes and also a really major reduction in the number of missiles which could be fitted into something the size of an existing pod.

    You could make them substantially larger, in which case -- depending on the upper size limit you were prepared to accept -- you could probably even also fit the current missile loads into one of them. But what you would have when you got done would be something which would be extraordinarily difficult to conceal from the enemy, would be extraordinarily easy for an enemy to kill, and would (in my view) be of limited tactical utility.

    You could fit the sort of Ghost Rider stealth technology which conceals a recon drone into something the size of a missile pod, but not the stealth technology utilized by something the size of a Shrike. And, unfortunately, the recon drone's stealth systems wouldn't be sufficient to hide the impeller signature which something as big as missile pod would generate.

    These pods are designed to be several things. One thing they're designed to be is deployable in useful numbers from ships of the wall. By the time you put an impeller wedge on to them, they won't be, so you'd have to build a specialized class of pod which couldn't be deployed by your wall of battle, and then figure out how you're going to transport them to the point in space where you plan to use them and how you're going to provide them with sufficient onboard power (even with the new Manticoran micro-fusion plants) to perform all the tricks you want them to do for you.

    Another thing the existing pods are designed to be is extremely stealthy. You put a drive on to them, and you strip away their stealth capability. Unless, of course, you were prepared to build LAC-sized missile pods, which I strongly doubt that any Honorverse navy would be at all eager to do. Especially because yet another thing they're designed to be is expendable in relatively large numbers. By the time you start building pods as sophisticated, capable, and large as anything of this sort would have to be, you're beginning to make some significant inroads into your industrial capacity if you plan to produce them in large numbers. And if you don't intend to produce them in large numbers, then you probably won't have sufficient operational density for them to be particularly useful to you except in some sort of surprise attack ambush scenario… which you're unlikely to achieve, because your platforms aren't sufficiently stealthy.

    Of course, they could probably be used against some third-tier navy somewhere -- rather like using the weapons systems intended to survive in an all out battle between NATO and the Warsaw Pact against, oh, Iraq, let's say -- with devastating effectiveness. On the other hand, the systems you already have would be sufficient to do that, without introducing all of the potential problems I've enumerated above into the mix.

    One thing the Royal Manticoran Navy's BuWeaps and BuShips have insisted upon from the get-go is that the systems they actually deploy, for all their technological sophistication and innovation, eschew any avoidable bells and whistles. This is a navy which is undertaking a major technological revolution in the midst of a war for its survival. That lends a certain brutal practicality to its viewpoint, and the RMN both believes very strongly in the KISS principal and understands that "best" is the enemy of "good enough." And what's true for the Manties is even more true for Shannon Foraker's Havenites. They have no choice but to use "good-enough-to-get-by" concepts and hardware because they can't build anything else. Even if they could, however, Shannon is hardheaded and practical enough to strongly discourage unnecessary ruffles and flourishes.

    It's nice to have capabilities the other side doesn't have, but unless those capabilities are sufficient to provide a pronounced, or preferably decisive, tactical advantage, then complicating your life (and compromising your "standard" combat capability) to build them in is counterproductive. I think I've commented in previous posts on the fact that many of the proposals which appear to be coming up are more those which I feel would appeal to a war game designer than to a practical naval analyst or planner in the "real world."

    One of the things which I have very deliberately done in assessing the new technology I introduce into the Honorverse is to attempt to apply the test of pragmatism as I go along. That's the lesson which Sonja Hemphill had to learn before she became a truly effective innovator, and it was one which Shannon Foraker grasped from the outset. It's not a yardstick I propose to abandon at this point… although I suppose it might just turn out that someone in another, possibly arrogantly overconfident navy, might just possibly fall prey to the Arthur C. Clarke "superiority" school of thought when the realization of just how badly outclassed his fleet is finally percolates through his skull…