In Battlestar Galactica, the main Colonial fighter, the Viper, lacks faster than light travel. Why is this? Raptors, ships not much larger than the Viper have the ability for FTL travel. Cylon raiders and heavy raiders both have FTL ability and have used them in many engagements. And from the usage of the Viper, it seems that these ships have not been designed for long range strike missions or to provide escort for the heavier Raptors during their missions. So can anyone explain why such a potent craft has been hobbled to only flying at sub-light speeds?

1 Answer 1


The FTL drive systems of the Cylons were far more efficient (and thus smaller) than the systems used by the Colonials. The FTL drive was too large to put into the narrow frame of the Colonial Viper and the smallest vessel that could carry a jump drive was the Colonial Raptor which acted as an electronic warfare, reconnaissance and short range transport.

There was a Viper design, made from scratch onboard the Galactica that did incorporate an FTL drive, by sacrificing weapons system space. The FTL drive would place significant stress on such a vessel and the design came with a number of other limitations.

The Cylon Raider entry at Wikipedia reports:

The Cylon Raider is also capable of making FTL jumps. After a Heavy Raider was captured by the Battlestar Galactica, its FTL drive system was discovered to be more efficient than those on the Colonial vessels. It could travel the distance of Kobol to Caprica in less than 10 jumps (compared to the estimated 120 jumps the Colonial fleet would take). It is capable of atmospheric flight, as was its predecessor, and is far more maneuverable in spaceflight than the previous Raider, likely due to upgraded thrust-vectoring systems.

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    The Raptor FTL drive would fit within a Viper sized frame but the Viper used this space for weapon systems instead. See Blackbird
    – jfrankcarr
    Apr 12, 2012 at 3:34
  • Thank you for the reference. I have made an additional edit. Apr 12, 2012 at 3:44
  • Cylon raiders also seem to be slightly larger than Vipers - thought there seems to be a person sized hole in the middle of their fuselage (for some unknown reason) - don't know if that's a factor
    – HorusKol
    Apr 12, 2012 at 22:47
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    The difference is half a meter in size, but with the compression and reduction of their FTL drive (and the living nature of their ships) they do not have to make space for life support technologies for pilots AND weapons. Apr 12, 2012 at 23:20
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    @HorusKol It's not a person-sized hole... it's a cylon-meatlump-raider-pilot sized hole.
    – T.J.L.
    Apr 5, 2018 at 20:01

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