SMALL VESSEL

INTRODUCTION TO LIGHT CRAFT

One of the earliest and most basic forms of space vessel, shuttles and other light craft are designed to provide a wide range of capabilities to starship crews who must land on a planet, asteroid or conduct other space operations that require a small transport. Shuttles are known for their survival ability during abandon ship situations, their ability to weather difficult and treacherous atmospheric conditions and their ability to extend the range of a single starship when necessary. Most Shuttles are equipped with a wide range of support systems, including sensors, survival gear, weapons, computer interfaces and in recent years, micro-transporters. Many shuttles are designed for specific functions while generalized shuttles are designed for a wide range of uses. Shuttles provide starships an effective way to transport personnel to and from locations that would otherwise be inaccessible by transporter or other means. Most shuttles can be operated by a single individual. Shuttles are often kept small to allow for docking and landing capability. Although armed, most shuttles cannot withstand an attack for a capital ship. Shuttles are extremely inexpensive to build, repair or maintain, and nearly every navy uses shuttles.

 

STANDARD SHUTTLE

Simply referred to as a shuttle, these small craft are designed to ferry 6 to 10 individuals too various destinations. They are equipped to act as a short term base on planets during exploration operations, medical transports during emergency situations, as well as a wide range of other possibilities. A standard sized shuttle is by far the most common type of transport found in space.

 

WARPSHUTTLE

Warp shuttle is a designation which has evolved over time. Not to be confused with standard shuttlecraft, warp shuttles are actually Class I-III starships. They are designed to have moderate to good speed and maneuverability and generally are lightly armed if armed at all. Their primary function is the transport of command staff, key personnel and other VIPs as well as small cargoes and equipment that is needed in far flung areas where is a transport in unnecessary? Warp shuttles also serve as couriers in all the major power’s space fleets. Warp shuttles were originally conceived around the mid23rd century as warp-capable craft that could be carried in the shuttle hangers of larger vessels. However, the only warp shuttle designs of the time small enough to fit in most ship’s hanger bays were small Class I and some minimized Class II warp shuttles. These took up significant space due to their size and additional service requirements compared to standard sub-light shipboard shuttlecraft. While the Romulans regularly deployed warp shuttles aboard their warships, other major powers opted to only assign warp shuttles to their ships when mission parameters required them. Through the end of the 23rd century, the most widely deployed Klingon warp shuttle designs were too large to fit in the hanger bays of their warships. Their warp shuttles served the multiple roles of couriers, light diplomatic craft and as small personal (and personnel) transports for military and government officials. Starbases and other command centers keep a number of warp shuttles on hand to quickly transfer key personnel to new duty stations and other assignments. Over the years, these small starships became known as ‘runabouts’ within Star Fleet. When small, standard shuttlecraft designs capable of warp speeds began to appear, Star Fleet changed the Warpshuttle designation to Runabout in order to avoid confusion.

 

FIGHTERS

The operation of fighters for deep space combat and other military applications has been an established yet dangerous part of space combat for over 100 years. Fighter tactics and combat capabilities have changed drastically over the years, but have also had to contend with a vast array of difficulties pertaining to Fighter operations. Fighter’s primary disability is there size. Very few  fighters reach the Class II weight classification, with most little heavier than shuttles. Fighters small size predicates extremely light power curves and light armament. In practical combat terms, single fighters are nearly useless when matched against even escorts and scouts. Fighters have no deep space capability and limited supplies. All fighters must rely on a base or support craft to operate. Fighters rarely have heavy weapons and often must land to re-arm during prolonged combat. Fighters have limited sensors, targeting systems and very limited shielding. Most fighter class vessels are unable to withstand a direct hit from energy weapons. Despite these setbacks, fighters are surprisingly effective. Due to their small size, squadrons of fighters are able to operate in extremely close proximity, overlapping shields and concentrating weapons fire to damage their opponents. Fighters are often 3 to 4 times as maneuverable

as starships, able to use complex evasive patterns to provide protection from hostile attack. When launched, a single squadron of fighters can often mass sufficient firepower to down an enemy shield and cause some damage. With subsequent waves attacking the same location, fighters become extremely dangerous. Fighters also force enemy starships to commit to a multi vector defense plan, diverting precious power to 360 degree shields. Most fighter carriers have sufficient fighters to engage 3 destroyer class vessels simultaneously, and with Carrier Battle Groups, are able to engage entire enemy fleets with high degrees of success. None the less, only large numbers of fighterprove effective against enemy capital ships. Although many ships have a single wing of fighters aboard, they are rarely used due to the extremely high mortality rates associated with fighter operations.

 

RUNNABOUT

The largest of the small stransport starships, the Runnabout is used as a multi-mission mid range light transport for moving 5 to 10 individulas and their equipment. While not much larger than a warp shuttle, the Runnabout is design with a significantly longer mission objective in mind. It’s ability to operate as a small scout or other light craft give the Runnabout a particular appeal to base commanders.

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