"Star Fighter" is a blanket term that covers any small spacecraft designed for combat rolls. While functionally similar to their much larger cousins, a star fighter can be compared to a starship the same as an atmospheric fighter to a passenger liner: one is much bigger, less manuverable, and flies further.
During the first five Ages, the Gudersnipe Foundation operated a wide assortment of star fighters. However, the advent of the Harpy shortly before the begining of the Kamian Succession Wars caused nearly every class to be phased out of primary combat rolls.
Gudersnipe Foundation Classes
The Gudersnipe Foundation recognizes five types of fighters:
- Reconnaissance: recon fighters carry sensors instead of weapons. They are usually light, fast, and as stealthy as possible. They rely on speed and the ability to go unnoticed, while gathering telemetry with long-range scanners.
- Stunt: stunt fighters are primarily intended for demonstration, either as proof-of-concept test beds or acrobatic performances. They often carry negligable offensive payloads and have a short endurance. However, as the lightest, fastest, and most manuverable fighters in the fleet, they can be configured for specific missions.
- Escort: the escort fighter was probably the earliest class to be completely removed from active service. In the early days following the end of the Mage Wars and the first few centuries of the Golden Age, escort fighters were common-place. Designed for long-endurance and FTL capable, these carried a payload of primarily counter-measure and missile-killing ordnance. As technology improved, Superiority fighters were able to fill the same fleet roll with the proper payloads. By the early-mid Golden Age, escort fighters had been replaced completely by corvettes and multi-roll fighters. The class lives on as the Nimbus, which is used primarily in cargo convoys and the private sector.
- Interceptor: like the Escort, Interceptors were eventually superceded as technology improved. Initially, interceptors were the fastest, sacrificing armor, manuverability, and ordnance payload, for speed. These fighters were designed to fly out at high speeds and engage enemy fighters a safe distance from the fleet. As far back as the mid Golden Age, the Foundation was fielding a 50PSL+ Interceptor(See: Sparrowhawk-class.). However, like the old escorts, the Interceptor was eventually superseded my fast, multi-roll fighters that could carry out the same objective but also function in other areas.
- Attack: the attack fighter was designed as an intermediary between bombers and fighters. Carrying a powerful offensive payload, it was intended to use speed and manuverability to attack enemy ships and space instalations. With some offensive weapons thes fighters could engage in dogfights, but their primary roll was assualt. The Gargoyle-class of mid-range bomber was initially conceived as an attack fighter, but later recalssified as the project expanded to include a larger bomb payload and no offensive weapons.
- Superiority: the first Superiority fighters evolved out of a combination of Escorts, Interceptors, and the escort sub-class Bomber Escort. Conceptually, the goal was to produce a powerful, multi-roll fighter that could gain and keep tactical superiority. Superiority-type fighters began to emerge around the begining of the Second Age and had largely replaced the niche-roll fighters by the end of the third century.
While the different types are still recognized and taught, for much of the Foundation's history only Superiority and Reconnaissance-type fighters were routinely flown, with Superiority fighters being fit with variable payloads according to their assigned rolls.