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ShuttlecraftRunaboutsScout ShipsFighters

A starfighter is a relatively small, maneuverable spacecraft designed for military combat. The majority of starfighters are piloted directly by living beings, although some are either controlled remotely or by artificial intelligence. These light craft are designed to carry out attacks on sensitive installations and targets that required immense precision, that larger vessels, such as Galaxy-class ships, cannot perform.

For their size, starfighters are the most technically advanced and destructive weapon platforms ever developed. Light combat spacecraft have become indispensible parts of every major fleet and planetary defense system in the galaxy.

Classifying starfighters is nearly impossible because there are so many kinds. Thousands of manufacturers throughout the galaxy build uncounted models and versions. They range from slow, single-seat, short-ranged patrol vessels to multi-engined strike fighters, armed with beam weapons, missile weapons and able to travel at warp speeds. What's more, starfighters are frequently modified or rebuilt to use special weapons, sensors, astrogation computers, and other equipment.

All starfighters carry powerful computers to interpret their pilot's commands into thousands of independent operations needed to ensure optimal control of the ship. Some computers are even capable of piloting a ship alone. However, experience has shown that ships flown by pilots produce the best results, especially in combat. Spaceships controlled by computers or artificial intelligence can't respond quickly or well enough to unexpected situations. Remotely-piloted and computer- or AI-controlled starfighters fall into the category of "drones," and their performance lags significantly behind that of piloted craft.

Traditionally, the "superpowers" of the galaxy (the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, Borg, etc) have emphasized large ships and massed firepower to dominate the galaxy. Smaller political entities, however, quite often have smaller capital ships (in both size and number) and supplement this fact with "swarms" of starfighters, whether planet-, station- or carrier-based.

In spite of their destructive weapons, phenomenal speed, and other capabilities, starfighters are only as good as the pilots who fly them. Great daring, discipline, and natural flying instinct form the basic requirements of all combat pilots. But pilots also need terrific physical stamina, detailed technical knowledge of their craft's abilities, and training in both friendly and enemy tactics. Continuous and rigorous training is required to ensure they make the right choices instantly - because in the face of the enemy, there are no second chances.


There are numerous ways that starfighters could be grouped as units. The following is only one possibility:

the Element

The element is the smallest tactical unit deployed. Each element is made up of a leader and his wingman - two starfighters. Orders are issued to leaders only. Wingmen follow.

the Flight

The flight is the next smallest tactical unit, made up of two elements - four starfighters - and are the most common tactical unit deployed. Many squadrons keep one flight on alert at all times.

the Squadron

A squadron is composed of three flights, totaling 12 fighters. Squadrons quite often are designated by color, letters, or other "fancy" names, and usually enjoy some level of friendly competetiveness.

the Wing

Six fighter squadrons make up a single wing. This may or may not include a recon and/or training squadron. The wing includes by definition starfighters, pilots, all support personnel and equipment. All wing personnel report to the wing commander through a chain of command separate from the rest of the carrier or base's crew. The wing commander reports to the ship or base's commanding officer.

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Black-and-white ship illustrations by Tim Davies unless otherwise noted. Used with permission. All other images are copyright to their respective owners.
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