Starcraft, also known as spacecraft, are vessels designed to operate in the void of space or in orbit of a planet; that is, they are capable of operating outside of the atmosphere of a planetary body. They differ from starships in that they are very rarely equipped with a MAG drive, and are usually also considerably smaller than starships, though some, such as gunships, often fit into both categories. Similarly, unlike starships, starcraft are almost universally incapable of extended transit due to lack of crew berthing space, supplies, or both. Orbital craft usually fall into the starcraft category, though suborbital craft rarely are unless they can maintain exoatmospheric flight for an extended period of time; many nomenclatures are colloquially changed and gray-area definitions are rarely valuable.
Starcraft includes any number of civil or martial uses, to include intrasystem transport, mining, tugs and tenders, fighters, bombers, and dropships.
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There is no clear-cut definition of what defines a vessel as a “transport,” or even an agreed upon name among nations as to how to refer to them. They may be determined by one obvious fact, however: They move things and people from one location to another. Sublight transports, those lacking a MAG drive, often do not stray too far from a planet or collection of moons, and never outside of a system without a carrier-vessel. They may come in all shapes and sizes, from massive cargohaulers and asteroid-catchers, to small intrasystem couriers.
Shuttles, or personnel-carrying vessel are often grouped into the “transport” category, are often small spaceplanes, but may bridge into the larger category of cruiser-liners. A common misconception is that a shuttle is capable of operation independent of atmosphere, but many small commercial craft requiring the use of atmospheric gases are used to move people to and from large vessels capable of entering only the upper atmosphere. Instead,they differentiate themselves from aircars in that they are commercially or federally operated, and often are larger than privately owned aircars.
A fighter, or starfighter, is a military craft designed for the primary purpose of destroying other starcraft, as opposed to bombers and gunships, who are designed to attack planetary, celestial-based facilities, and starships.
Interceptors are designed primarily for space-superiority; targeting bombers and their escort fighters. They are often faster and designed for longer ranges and do not necessarily need weapon systems designed around attacking foes that are not other starcraft. Though they may be heavily armed, they are almost never equipped with heavy weaponry. Interceptors are decidedly some of the largest fighters made, and usually the most expensive.
Parasite fighters are more common among larger starships, giving them a capable offense other than their standard missiles and guns. Not meant to operate far from their motherships, parasite fighters may not even be capable of landing on a planetary body. While designed for a similar purpose as interceptors, they are often smaller and less durable, yet far more maneuverable, as their primary danger is the ever-evolving close-in-weapon systems of warships.
Strike fighters bridge the gap between tactical bombers and multi-role fighters. The primary difference between a strike fighter and a tactical bomber is that a strike fighter is usually a variant of an existing fighter, and though not technically designed to do so, may be used in typical fighter-roles.
Multirole fighters are the true jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none when it comes to fighters. They are often preferred due to the ability to standardize equipment, training, and logistics, making up for the fact that a multirole fighter, unless well designed, will almost never do as well in a role as a dedicated fighter. This is not always strictly the case, but is a common rule-of-thumb.
A bomber is a combat craft designed for the purpose of delivering ordnance such as bombs, missiles, and mines to assault planetary fortifications, starships, space stations, and other larger objects of military importance. Unlike fighters, it is uncommon for a bomber to be used against other starcraft, though the use of bombers as “missile-trucks” for forward-operating fighters to scout out targets for the bomber’s long-range missiles is common practice.
Tactical bombers, while larger than fighters, are small enough to be transported by large starships. They are fast planetary- and anti-ship ordnance platforms, and though they usually need fighter-escort, they are capable of making a getaway of their own accord. Tactical bombers are not always heavily armed, but unlike smaller fighters, can carry larger ordnance that can do damage to shielded ships or fortifications.
Strategic bombers run on the larger side in terms of starcraft and provide the capable of large volumes of ordnance delivery to planets and warships. They are usually used in defense or assaults of planets or stations, but are too large to be transported by typical capital ships. They are usually quite ungainly and need escorts when dealing anywhere near contested space.
A gunship is a military or federal craft armed with multiple large guns, lasers, or missile launchers, typically intended for use against ground targets or smaller spaceships, and rarely against other spacecraft. They are notably more maneuverable than corvettes and smaller crewed, though have a higher armament-density, all due to the lack of the hefty MAG drive and lack of need for long-duration deployments.
A gunship differentiates itself from the similarly sized bomber in that it is not designed to deliver it’s payload all at once, and rarely carries a powerful enough payload to give considerable damage to larger warships, especially not ships-of-the-line.
Dropships, like gunships, are typically larger craft, most with a carrying capacity of at least a dozen people and their associated gear, though some may be specialized for other duties. Most dropships are akin to transatmospheric shuttles, albeit designed for combatant roles, and most have at least a cursory armament. Many must be specialized for individual jobs such as landing drop-pod troopers, or carrying large vehicles, though a few multirole dropships have gained popularity. The large end of the spectrum includes lander vessels as large as many starships, capable of moving entire companies of armored vehicles, specifically with the intent of delivering them under fire.
ELECTRONIC WARFARE CRAFT
“Electronic Warfare” is the use of any measure of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to assault, divert, detect, or impede the enemy, though this does not include the use of laser weaponry. It may be used against living targets, communications, detection, cybernetic, or any variety of electronic systems. Cybernetic warfare is often considered separately from electronic warfare, though the two intertwine on many accounts. Electronic warfare craft are one of the most critical components to any military organization, and often the most overlooked. These craft are the critical eyes-and-eyes of any fleet or assault force, and can do much in the way of masking an assault or creating decoys, or may be used as communication’s nodes and signal boosters around the body of a planet, or act as necessary scouts or jammers of enemy defenses, allowing fighters and bombers to quickly disable fortifications prior to large-scale assaults.