G.S.S. Bounty, M-203-F, was the line-leader for the Bounty-class Fast-Attack Stealth Ship. Bounties were built in huge numbers during the Kamian Succession Wars and operated primarily by the Alliance and member-worlds. The Crimson Blade ultimately fielded very few of them, despite about 1/3rd of all models being constructed directly by the Foundation. The rest were built under contract by the Alliance, which was given special dispensation to purchased IFA heavy beam cannons and military-spec'd Fairview FTL Drives. Countless more knock-off ships, made with civilian-grade drives and cheap copies of the main cannon, were also constructed by various powers.
The Foundation had an agreement with the Alliance that, following the war, all surviving Bounty-class ships were to be sold back to the Foundation at cost. While the Alliance generally tried to comply, few member worlds did. Many of the ships were kept by worlds that otherwise did not have the capacity to build warships. Still others were illegally sold on the secondary market, where they became extremely popular with mercenaries, smuglers, and other such individuals of ill-repute. Ironically for the name, the Foundation was forced to issue a "bounty" on all Bounty-class ships that could be either returned to the Crimson Blade or proven destroyed.
The Bounty was never conceived as a production-model ship. Instead, it was constructed as a Metal Prototype, Multi-technology Test Bed and equipment demonstrator. During the Battleship Crisis, the Foundation was desperate for ways to field more ships; one proposal formed the mianstay of the Bounty's design: it would rely on active shielding, rather than armor, to protect itself. This concept, definitely not revolutionary, was not well-recieved by the Crimson Blade regulars. Still, shield technology had come a long way, particularly in the area of Projection Shields(which can stop torpedoes), so the metal-prototype received the green light.
Along with the new shielding requirements, Bounty was slated as a test bed for a new type of compressed energy weapon being developed by Industrial Face Annihilators. The charged particle cannon was built using lightweight composites, making them much easier to produce. It was slated to be the main gun on an upcoming battleship design, but IFA's scientists had grave doubts about it's combat-readyness.
The original Bounty design also fielded next generation engine technology, as well as numerous sub-system enhancements that would see use on other starships for years to come.
Many of Bounty's original design-elements were lifted from the Mauarader-class of Fast-Attack Ship. The Bounty was over three times as long, but with about the same beam.
Around a half a century after the first ships went into operation, the Crimson Blade ordered an upgraded version of the Bounty. They had begun to engage in comerce-raiding at this point, and were jealous of the success Alliance wolf-packs were having. The line-leader, C.B.S. Viper, was around thirty feet long than a standard Bounty, packed and secondary, slightly smaller cannon, and had her hull heavily re-enforced. The order for the ships from the Crimson Blade effectively said "Like the Bounty, but able to take a punch".
The main features of the Viper included heavily enhanced power-generation and a hull armored with high-strength ceramic composite plating. The armor was by no means on a par with that of a real fleet battleship, but it gave the Viper the capacity to withstand a "near miss" by most nukes.
Viper-class ships became known as 'The Crimson Blade Special' due to their C.B.S.-prefix, especially when operating alongside Alliance Bounty-class ships. The name is also thought to derive from the space craft's resemblance to a sandwitch.
As a test platform the Bounty preformed well, achieving full operational readyness and being deployed on several missions as a student ship.
As a test platform, it was deemed an over-all failure; active shielding provided sufficient defense, but not sufficient endurance.
The new beam canon was also found to be a failure. While the casing itself was sufficient, the sub-systems to the weapon for found to have serious design flaws that resulted in the weapon effectively breaking every time it was used. The composite casing program was also scrapped, as while it was considered effective under normal usage, it was deemed to have a very short operational lifespan when fired "at battle speeds". A variant of the composite version did see usage on many Alliance-manufactured variants.
While the Bounty was considered a failure as a test platform, the Alliance, who was allowed access to several of the tests, immediately saw great potential in the ship, and asked to purchase several of the design, upgraded with improved stealth technology.
The Foundation initially made no plans to produce "the modified Marauder", but the Alliance requested a small production run. The saw use for the ship in home guard, convoy escort, and commerce-raiding roles. While the Foundation did not agree to the usefulness of the vessel, they acquiesced to sell the Alliance thirty ships modified for mass production.
Initial changes included: a slower, but more robust FTL drive(one which would now allow the vessel to keep up with Crimson Blade fleet ships), and a standard-production model of the main gun. Most of the other design features were left as-is from the original Bounty, with a few changes made to make the ships easier to produce.
The original agreement held that the ships could not be used for commerce-raiding. Presumably this agreement included a large number of exaggerated winks and air quotes, as the contract included zero provision for enforcing this caveat. Within a matter of decades, the Foundation had begun to openly engage in raids on Kamian shipping as well, and all future contracts for Bounty-class ships did not include the raiding prevision.
As the war progressed, the Foundation began to manufacture Bounties in large number, and even allowed the Alliance to produce the ship under license. Typically, the Alliance was required to purchase the main gun and FTL drive from the Foundation, but as war-time shortages pressed supply efforts, the Alliance was allowed to use locally-manufactured copies(In truth, the small FTL drives being produced by FairView, while "military-spec", the small-scale drives used on Bounties were no better than the type Alliance member-worlds could produce). Hundreds of thousands of Bounties were launched over the span of the war, with roughly 70% being built by the ALliance or by member worlds. Most of the Foundation-built variants were sold or given under lend-lease
Officially, only the Unity Earth Sphere Alliance Forces had permission to build Bounty-class ships, but had the discretion to loan them to member worlds. Since the Alliance had no direct ship-building of it's own, many yards producing Bounties proceeded to build cheap knockoffs as well, so the actual number eventually fielded is unknown.
The agreement between the Alliance and Foundation stipulated that at the conclusion of the war, any surviving Bounty-class ships were to be sold back to the Foundation at cost. The Alliance agreed in principle, but in practice was virtually unable to enforce the return of the ships from among it's member worlds. Some operators argued that they had to keep the ships for defensive purposes, others(who had paid for them) felt they were worth more, even as scrap than the paltry sum agreed upon by the major powers.
The Foundation made some allowances, granting some smaller nations permission to continue operating the spacecraft, while others who wished to scrap theirs on site were allowed to do so in the presence of a Foundation observer. Many ships were legitimately scrapped, only to have their components flood the open market and make continued operation of unregistered Bounty-class ships possible.
In the post-war period, many legitimate operators also began to sell their aging Bounties off. Either to shady ship-wreckers who turned around and sold the vessels on the black market, or in many cases, simply auctioning them off without questioning the new owners.
A few retired Bounties found legitimate use. Being small and easy to maintain, with most replacement parts freely available on the civilian market, it was not a challenge to keep most of the ship operational. A few were stripped of weapons and found use in the tramp trade; being long-endurance vessels thy were ideal for supplying remote colonies and mining sites. Others became science vessels, again high-endurance coupled with relatively cheap operational costs made them sought-after by private universities.
And, of course, a few worlds not affiliated with the Foundation or Alliance did need actual defensive war-ships, and had the resurces to at least maintain Bounties, and manufacture effective weapons systems for them.
Realistically, most of them were used as pirate ships. A combination of stealth capabilities, powerful weapons systems, and high-endurance made them most effective. It was very challenging to keep the main cannon operational, but various illegal operators found ways.