Ranger Mk-IX Design History
The Mk-IXD line of the NEBULA keel, termed the Nasty Nebula, was developed from the Mk-IIX design used for deep space exploration during the first half of the 24th century. That the Mk-IIX design was intended for exploration did not diminish the simplicity and adaptability of the design, and her application to military mission profiles was obvious. Her hard point mission pad, to the dorsal aft section of the hull, allows for the Mk-IIX class to be modified to tactical missions or to scientific ones, depending on auxilliary units or equipment swapped for materials therein. The Phoenix-B and Isannah are excellent examples of how the standard Mk-IIX Nebula can be adapted to serve multiple mission profiles.
The Mk-IIX series was improved upon with the Mk-IX series, commissioned specifically for military mission profiles. This was done when political and diplomatic considerations in the Alpha Quadrant resulted in a shift in the balance of power to favor the Borg Collective, the Romulan Star Empire, and the Dominion Alliance. The keels for Mk-IIX vessels like the Phoenix and Isannah were laid prior to this shift, and so the vessels themselves could only be partially adapted to long term military operations. The Mk-IX line, therefore, is the result of Starfleet's need for cheaply built, versatile and mobile defense platforms. These vessels can also be adapted to specific tactical and strategic missions, as they carry the same equipment/sensor pod as do the standard Nebula keels, but the vessels lack any "fat" found in more multi-purpose vessels. These ships are designed exclusively for military missions.
There are four subtypes of the Mk-IX design.
The Mk-IXA Series (frigate design): she is the smallest and fastest of the Nebula class, capable of extended operations in the warp 9.5-9.55 range. The Mk-IXA carries atmospherically deployed fusion and M/AMR bombs and a wing (4) of FA fast attack fighter-shuttles
The Mk-IXB Series (battleship): she is the largest and slowest of the Mk-IX line, but still faster than most other Starfleet keels, including the Galaxy Class. Her mission role is to provide anti-fleet and anti-planet bombardment and fleet defense. She carries 20 X-1 series phaser emitters and a total of 4 repeating quantum torpedo tubes. She most often operates as part of a task force, since her impulse maneuvering capabilities are less than her sister models. Although there was some talk about modifying the aging Galaxy class to serve this role in addition to or instead of the Mk-IX-B, this idea was abandoned when it was realized that the cost of substantially remodeling the GALAXY to eliminate civilian quarters and cargo space would have produced a vessel which costs twice as much as the IX-B and took 2.5 times as long to build.
The Mk-IXC Series (heavy cruiser): she is also meant to operate as part of a task force, as she is faster than the IX-B but slower than the IX-A and IX-D. She serves as a fast attack light battleship. She also carries the Super-Shield Fleet defense computer, which can coordinate defense systems for an entire convoy of up to 80 vessels.
The Mk-IXD Series (and newer IXD-A hull, of which RANGER-A and INDRIA-A are two examples of): she is a destroyer.
- The newer IXD-A is a stealth destroyer. Her sensor profile is blurred by non-conductive tiles incorporated into her hull design; if she can delay detection even for a space of seconds, this can spell the difference between surprise and defeat. The design operates both as part of a convoy and alone; she is the second fastest (second to the IXA ) and quietest ship Starfleet has ever designed. Except for the new warp 9.9 separating hull vessel currently in design, the Mk-IXD-A is the best hope to get there fastest and with as little "noise" as possible.