Stealth Bombers/ Proteus sits in an exploration site. When the explorer decloaks to hack the site, the ganker decloaks, scrams, and then scores an easy kill. In all my time exploring, I have never seen this tactic employed before, but with the increased interest in exploration (and thus more people visiting exploration sites), I am seeing it more and more. I've seen bombs, torpedoes, and even rockets used in these stealth bombers. Thankfully I've only lost one ship to this tactic, but I've seen it used on others, and seen it in the killboards.
So what can us Low-sec/Null sec explorers do?
-Explore in a T3. I have no experience with this myself.
-Check the combat history of the system, if the tactic has been employed in the past, move on. Increases the amount to time needed to explore, and odds are good that checking dotlan will be inconclusive.
-Explore in a gang. Not really an option for the PVE explorer. It probably won't save you, will attract PvP attention, and splitting the already pitiful amount of money gained from exploration will render exploration completely worthless.
-Dual box, 1x Covops, 1x cloaky combat ship. i.e.stealth bomber, T3, Recon Cruiser. After each site, transfer the loot to the cloaky combat ship. Other than being in a Falcon, there is not much you can do to save the Covops, but at least you won't lose all the loot.
-Fit 2x Warp core stabs. 10+ seconds lock time <20 km lock range. CPU is tight or impossible without a CPU module or rig. Increases the amount of time uncloaked, but you can warp out in most cases.
-Fit a venture for exploration. Natural +2 to warp strength, but seriously limited exploration abilities. Very CPU limited, No Warping cloaked.
-Use cheap t1 frigates. No warping cloaked, CPU issues, reduced virus strength.
-Convince CCP to introduce a line of dedicated exploration ships (like the mining barge/exhumer tree). Have t1 and t2 variants with frigate, cruiser, and battlecruiser size ships. Give the t2 ships the ability to warp cloaked and give all of them bonuses to warp strength (or a by level reduction to the effects of warp core stabilizers), virus strength and virus coherence. Don't bonus the turrets (so as not to eclipse the value of combat ships) but give them some combat ability for combat sites.
While this tactic is not likely to replace gate camps, it nevertheless represents the biggest danger to the covops explorer. TBH, I'm probably going to rethink my use of the Covops ship, because losing one ship is enough to wipe out my profits for several hours to several days of work (with the market crash).
Any other potential counters?