Raider

After prolonged study Starfleet decided in 2338 to procure a new craft for advanced warp/impulse pilot and navigational training duties. Initially it was hoped to produce a completely new design, but this proved over-ambitious for such a low priority project and Starfleet was compelled to modify an existing civilian vessel; the Raider-type utility craft was an obvious choice for this role and after a short fly-off between it and the Alganth class, the Raider class was selected.

The initial vessel procured by Starfleet was very similar to the civilian craft, with identical hull and propulsion systems. Changes included a cockpit which featured a master control station for the instructor, an aft compartment fitted with six consoles for navigator trainees, increased life support capacity for the extra personnel, a Starfleet model escape pod system and a more sophisticated computer core. One hundred and twenty of this alpha type were delivered between 2339 and 2342, replacing the older Swift class in Starfleet service. Once the Raider came into regular Starfleet use, the advantages of the design became obvious; although larger than most shuttle craft the Raider was much more suitable for interstellar level missions, and would make an ideal light utility vessel.

By 2345 Starfleet was concerned that it had become over dependant on transporters to land personnel and equipment on planetary surfaces against opposition by threat forces. Such systems were relatively easy to disrupt over wide areas even with relatively low-level technology, while transporters especially can be distinctly twitchy in the face of unusually adverse environmental conditions. To rectify this problem it was decided to produce a new beta type model of the Raider as a medium assault utility craft; the standard equipment of this type would include twin type 4 phaser emitters, photon torpedoes and a shield system considerably more capable than any existing shuttle craft. This would allow the Raider to carry larger loads into more dangerous situations than any existing cargo shuttle was capable of, while the warp capability of the Raider would allow it to operate on a true short to medium range interstellar basis - a considerable advantage over any shuttle craft then in service.

A further two hundred of these beta type Raiders were procured for this mission; they served during peacetime as general purpose cargo and personnel carriers. The combat debut of the Raider came during the Cardassian war; three of these vessels were used to transfer supplies and personnel to Setlik III during the Cardassian attack of that settlement. The Cardassian war allowed the Raider to operate in its true role for the first time, where the craft proved to be generally successful in service despite a relatively high attrition rate.

The Cardassian war also proved the impetus for the next variant of the Raider class, the gamma type assault craft. For this variant the idea of routine cargo hauling was dropped completely; the design was scaled up to double the size of a standard Raider, at 60 metres long. The aft hold was kept at its original size, but was converted into a troop compartment capable of holding fifty fully armed personnel and two transporter systems. The extra space created behind the troop compartment was used to expand the relative size of the warp core and add extra shields and weapons. The type 4 phasers were replaced with type 5 models and the number of photon torpedoes was increased from six to twelve, while the shields were boosted by some 30%. The gamma type performed widely during the middle and latter part of the war, both in the patrol role and in strikes at targets just across the front lines. This brought the Raider into contact with the Hedeki class patrol craft, and a bitter rivalry quickly developed between the Starfleet crews and their Cardassian counterparts. While lacking the glamour of the big ship engagements, the Raider-Hedeki clash was if anything more furious and intense. The Hedeki is considerably larger and somewhat more heavily armed than the gamma Raider, which is in turn more manoeuvrable and has better sensors. Of ninety seven engagements between the two, fifty eight Hedekis were lost for forty six Raiders - a true testament to the determination of the Starfleet crews. Since the end of the Cardassian war many gamma's have continued to serve on the Cardassian border; others serve as patrol craft in low-threat areas of the Federation, while the remainder were demilitarized and sold into the private market.

With a craft as widely available as the Raiders it is inevitable that some will be used for dubious purposes. As mentioned, all Starfleet vessels transferred into the private sector have been demilitarized; however the modifications required to reverse this process are simple once the necessary hardware has been acquired and many bandits have fitted their Raiders with weapons. Several dozen beta type Raiders were operated by the Maquis during their struggle with the Cardassians, along with a handful of gamma types; the large number of civilian Raiders in use for legitimate business made an ideal cover for the terrorists operations.

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