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This is a spinoff question from Why aren't there any main Federation battleships in the Star Trek universe? The Defiant is presented as a Main Battleship but has also been described as 'just' a "Tough little ship" by Riker. Is there any other in-canon information regarding how well the Defiant has actually stood up against a Galaxy Class type starship in a knockdown drag-out fight or any direct references to firepower/durability simulations, scenarios, in universe comments, etc.?

Are there any ships of Galaxy (or comparable) Class that the Defiant has actually beaten in a fight?

EDIT: From what I've found, the Defiant could be comparable to a modern day U.S. Navy Destroyer. Just as the modern Destroyer, the Defiant is classified as an 'escort vessel'. The Defiant is obviously capable of delivering a decent amount of firepower from a small maneuverable platform as well as being able to take a bit of a pounding but can it really stand toe-to-toe with a Ship of The Line?

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    Gorilla vs. Shark. – John O Jan 7 '14 at 18:46
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    @JohnO, not at all. This is, or should be, very quantifiable. The Defiant was built specifically for superior combat operations. That means superior to what was currently in the Federation's inventory. How was that superiority measured if not evaluation against current inventory. I just don't know where that in-universe info is so I post to the good people here for help. – Morgan Jan 7 '14 at 18:56
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    The problem is that specs don't necessarily prove anything as far as "who would win". David vs Goliath, or even just a really good/clever captain or pilot could conceivably turn the tables in a fight even if they are technically outclassed. – phantom42 Jan 7 '14 at 19:04
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    @JohnO: This is a X vs. Y question, you got that right, yes. But it is by far not a Gorilla vs. Shark. The idea why "Gorilla vs. Shark" is a bad question is because they could not possibly compete with each other; It doesn't make sense to ask the question to begin with. This however, could very well happen (both vessels "live" in the same medium!). The question is possible to be answered. VTRO. – bitmask Jan 7 '14 at 19:31
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    The Defiant is in a completely different category than a Galaxy class. It's a glass hammer - has very hard hitting cannons and is extremely maneuverable, but also has very weak shields and hull. Hit-and-run tactics are its best bet. The Galaxy and similar classes on the other hand are huge cruisers - turn like a barn, outfitted with (weaker) beam-based weaponry, and can take quite a pounding. Those are designed mostly for broadsiding. It really depends on the situation how a 1-on-1 between those two would go. – Chahk Jan 7 '14 at 19:59
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Although it's a fairly speculative answer (since in-universe there's never been a direct conflict between the two ships) we can make some reasonable suppositions based on the relative performance versus ships from enemy races and the one instance in which the Defiant faced a reasonably armed Federation ship.

The Galaxy class starship is described as "the largest and most powerful starship of its time" whereas the Defiant-class is characterised as a "limited role weapons platform".

In a 'stand-up' fight, the Galaxy-class would be the clear and immediate winner. Not only does it have vastly more phaser banks, stronger shields and a much higher top speed (warp 9.9 versus 9.5) but it also carries a host of additional weapons such as spatial mines.

Defiant-Class :

Speed: Warp 9.5

Armament: 4 forward-facing phaser cannons, at least 3 phaser emitters, at least 4 forward torpedo (photon and quantum torpedo) launchers, at least 2 aft torpedo launchers

Defenses: Deflector shields, ablative armor

enter image description here

Versus

Galaxy Class:

Speed: Warp 9.9 (Automatic engine shutdown after 10 minutes)

Armament: 12/14 phaser arrays; 2 torpedo launchers; 250 photon torpedoes; antimatter mines

Defenses: Deflector shields

enter image description here

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    I don't think you can boil it down so easily. Raw power only wins in a straightforward brute force tactic. Your estimate starts to break down if you consider the size and manoeuvrability of the vessels. The Enterprise is a science ship (with an impressive amount of weapons, yes) and not designed with combat in mind. The Defiant is the exact opposite. It is small (harder to hit), constructed for battle and considerably better armoured: Don't underestimate ablative armour --- the Defiant doesn't really care about phasers (much). – bitmask Jan 7 '14 at 19:28
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    The enterprise is regularly described as the flagship of the federation. In Paradise Lost (en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Paradise_Lost_(episode) the Defiant was clearly well matched to an Excelsior class ship, something decidedly older and less well-armed than a Galaxy class. – Valorum Jan 7 '14 at 19:34
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    The point is, I think, that the Enterprise doesn't have a significant advantage over the Excelsior class offensively when combating a Defiant class ship. It might have better defences, but they may give in in time. At least it's not such a clear cut as you claim it to be. – bitmask Jan 7 '14 at 19:37
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    That doesn't seem like a very compelling argument. Both Enterprise and Voyager seem to have serious problems combating Borg vessels, for example. They sometimes win, but usually due to lucky circumstances despite them being flagships. The Defiant however, was specifically built as a tool to destroy Cubes. By that estimate we should expect a serious amount of fire power. – bitmask Jan 7 '14 at 21:18
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    @carlsixsmith - It was designed to swarm the Borg with its Defiant-class pals, not take on an entire cube on its own. – Valorum Sep 1 '15 at 19:34
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Bit difficult to answer.

  1. The Defiant is much smaller that the Galaxy so it necessarily means it is of the less survivable design (less hull means vital systems easier to damage). It is, in turn, increased with ablative armor (again: necessity for a smaller ship), but there is only so much you can do in and on a limited hull. Design is for a warship, while Galaxy is a versatile vessel, with emphasis on diplomatic and research missions (including long-range). On the other hand, The Defiant's description as being "first pure warship design" is very telling. Which means that by definition Defiant is designed to be expendable, cheap to build (comparably) and not a stinging loss of life when (not if) lost in combat. Another point - it's officially classified as an escort vessel, but from all the conversations no one really knows how to classify it. Gul Dukat describes it as a "one of the most heavily armed warships in the quadrant", so while it should be treated as an exaggeration, not sure how to downgrade it and where to stop.
  2. Defiant was a clear winner in action vs USS Lakota (there may be some quibbling if it was a clear win for some, but there it is - Lakota was disabled). This was done with crew unfamiliar with the ship and almost certainly not trained to even lowest SF standard, so this could be counted as a double-win. Also this was a fight to disable, so necessarily Defiant pulled some punches. That could be counted as another half of a win.
  3. If Galaxy-class can find itself in trouble with two Galor-class, then the Defiant being easy winner (according to Tom Riker) against three Keldon-class (which are upgraded Galors), then it stands to reason that Defiant would be also a winner against a Galaxy-class.
  4. While Galaxy is much bigger and more powerful, Defiant is more maneuverable and has much greater punch packed into pulse phasers. Lakota scored nearly 100% hits, while Defiant maybe 40% (and pulse phasers maybe 30%), so there is something to be wished for in the accuracy department, but definitely not in the power of the weapons.

My opinion is that defeat of Lakota, being refitted Excelsior-class (which was a Starfleet flagship of two generations ago), is the closest to Galaxy (of course Excelsior is a very obsolete design by the time of the Defiant). However, taking into account crew inefficiency as described earlier it would count as a sort-of-answer. The quality of the crew is apparently a multiplier to hardware capabilities (and it's proven correct time and time again), and if we plug my improvised multiplication of 2.5 into the equation I believe that 2.5 Excelsiors is greater than one Galaxy.

So I would conclude that Defiant was put up against the ship that could compare to Galaxy-class, and I'm pretty confident it would win in one-on-one combat.

  • Why then do they have clouds of Defiant-class ships defending Galaxy-class ships? – Valorum Apr 20 '18 at 13:49
  • @Valorum - Clouds? Where? When? Anyway, the Galaxy-class is usually doubling as a fleet flagship. Crew complement is about 1k, fleet command staff is several dozen extra, whatever else is there - intel, counterintel, security etc and it comes to a lot of ppl. Galaxy can host up to 5k ppl (IIRC)? Also supply. Defiant class is not long range/extended cruise capable... – AcePL Apr 20 '18 at 14:32
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    As I said in my answer, because of the inconsistent writing people often over-estimate the relative power of the Defiant-class. Basically you're talking about the difference between a gunboat and the USS Nimitz. – Valorum Apr 20 '18 at 14:36
  • @Valorum - I would not go as far as "a gunboat". Defiant has basically experimental core, experimental engines, experimental armor. Nowhere it says how powerful pulse cannons are, but at least each pulse to be equivalent to power of 2 phaser emitters (as in DS9: Defiant). I believe it is misleading, though, as it may equally well double already upped output or wasn't about cannons at all. I'd say at least 4x, probably more. so 4 pulses in a burst, four cannons, x4 more power and we end up with equivalent of 64 phasers... half that for conservative estimate and you end up with... – AcePL Apr 20 '18 at 14:59
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    @Valorum I think the gunboat comparison is a little hyperbolic. Like AcePL, I do feel like the Defiant is more of what the current US Navy envisions of an armored destroyer with railguns mounted: much more advanced attack capability, but much smaller. Also, the Galaxy isn't nearly armored-enough to be a Nimitz. It has shields, which are the ST version of ECM, but it lacks solid armor and relies on the pure hull strength to survive damage. The Galaxy class is more like the refitted Midway class: stronger than most, and with better ECM, but not extremely well armored except for critical areas. – SeraphsWrath Apr 24 '18 at 0:32
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Technically? As with all things Trek, we have some inconsistency from the fact that the writers write things to be as good as they need to be for the story to work out as planned. In some cases, you see Defiant class thrashing Galor-class vessels and being said to be equivalent of three Keldon classes. In other cases, like the USS Valiant, we see one Galor-class ship just about draw with the defiant class, only for the Defiant-class to be repaired quicker. I would suppose how you would measure it. Straight up firepower, durability, and ability to act as a strategic flagship (or catch/escape in retreat at warp) I would lay money on a Galaxy-class. However, If we take into account that a Galaxy-class simply WON'T take on a Defiant to the end (not wanting to lose the civilians live aboard, more expensive to repair, more valuable as a strategic asset, etc) then in a more realistic setting, the Galaxy would simply retreat once it was clear that battle would be costly and it would safely outpace the Defiant. Additionally, my brother and I did a test before I posted. We played ST Legacy, him three matches as a Galaxy and me a Defiant, Where I won 2-1 matches, but all were very close matches. Then, to account for player (crew) ability, we switched, and that was 3-0, all in favour of the Galaxy. Those matches were not as close. Not sure how reliable you all consider that test, but it is there for what it is worth.

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    Welcome to the site. And to business:*USS Valiant* was damaged by "Cardassian battle cruiser. Nowhere ever was said that Galor-class is a battlecruiser. But I agree that inconsistency needs to be underlined in every situation. ST:Legacy is not reliable. I would actually use SFC:3, but that game is also a simplified ruleset, which can't be used for any comparison. Me? I could blow 4 Klingon BoPs with one Defiant class every time in SFC:3... It proves only that I cheat within game constraints... – AcePL Mar 4 at 10:02
  • Oh, and I would also like to point out that even in absolute terms Defiant is better armed than Galaxy. Hands down the ratio is at the very least TWICE as much power on the former. ST:L classes Defiant as destroyer, with all the perks of that cat (i.e. easy to kill) and underpowers it compared to the show. – AcePL Mar 4 at 10:57
  • I see. I am gonna be looking into SFC:3, it sounds fun. And you are right, they said battle cruiser, Galor-class in canon is just a cruiser. They did make it unclear in that episode what a Cardassian battle cruiser was, so I ran with cruiser. Looking back, in all likelihood it was probably a Keldon, but we will never really know. And you are corrrect that the Ratio of firepower on the Defiant is better equipped. Hower, if you take away ratios, and just consider actual standard firepower, the Galaxy edges Defiant out. – Finn Larkin Mar 6 at 16:33
  • Keldon- class is improved Galor, but you're correct - we'll never know. As for the firepower talk - using conservative numbers as per canon I calculate that the Defiant's salvo is AT LEAST twice as powerful as the Sovereign class, probably more still. So no, Galaxy doesn't hold a candle to it. But equally obviously Defiant is much smaller, thus definitely less survivable. But that's by design. Also - in First Contact, during battle with Borg, it took much more punishment than other ships and was "salvageable", so... it's another "maybe" in this talk. – AcePL Mar 8 at 15:21
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The USS Valiant went up against a Cardassian Galor class vessel near the outbreak of the Dominion War. According to the Red Squad cadets who took over control, they fought to a stalemate. The Valiant finished repairs and then destroyed the Cardassian ship. Galor-class Cardassian vessels are comparable to Galaxy-class Federation vessels.

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    I'm highly skeptical that the Galor class is tactically comparable to the Galaxy class. Can you back that claim up with evidence? – ApproachingDarknessFish Apr 17 '18 at 22:47
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    The commentary between various captains in "The Chase", my favorite TNG episode, suggests that one Galor is not a match for Enterprise-D, but two Galor would have the advantage. – kingledion Apr 18 '18 at 1:22
  • Again: Valiant was damaged in battle with Cardassian battle cruiser, which Galor is certainly not. And the ship destroyed by it in that episode wasn't even Cardassian, let alone Galor-class, so answer is rather... bad. Suggest heavy edit. – AcePL Mar 8 at 15:57
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In the DS9 episode Shattered Mirror, a defiant-class ship engages a Klingon Neg'var class craft and forces it into retreat. I don't know for certain that the Neg'Var was better armed and shielded than a Galaxy-class ship, but it is possible (some might point out this was in the mirror universe, but even so the ships' specs probably aren't that different from their prime universe counterparts).

  • Given that we can't compare the Neg'Var with a Galaxy-Class, this comparison seems pretty worthless. – Valorum Apr 20 '18 at 5:58
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    @Valorum- we could look their specs up at Memory Alpha. – Nu'Daq Apr 20 '18 at 21:09
  • You could, but I'm not sure how much that would help you. – Valorum Apr 20 '18 at 21:46
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    I think it's fair if you include things like star trek Armada, where a Neg'var is as powerful as a sovereign. – Servitor Apr 24 '18 at 23:43
  • @Servitor yes but if you include thing like Armada then you wouldn't need to build sovereign class ships (in game) you would just build the cheaper defiants. That same game shows a defiant is no match for a Neg'var or Sovereign, it also shows that 2 galaxy class are a match for a borg cube (so its not very realistic) – Matt Oct 28 at 16:34
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When it was first introduced in DS9 it was as powerful in weapons as any ship but in a small, multiple layer hull and other redundancy of main systems so that it can take a pounding. The power generator must be a major innovation. Anyway, Defiant taking a pounding is much cheaper than trashing a Galaxy class ship with lots of science lab tech and crew facilities, with a factor of a hundred less people endangered. So while both ships may have similar overall capability, the Defiant can be in a knock down fight much longer with fewer casualties and costly damage. Also it routinely made a bigger difference than any other ship in the Dominion War against all enemies. It wasn't just its own firepower but also (with Sisko as captain, especially) its ability to coordinate groups, serve as command ship, that made it a great warship.

According to some ultra-Trekaphiles, the Defiant (captained by Worf) was downgraded in the big Borg battle in movie Star Trek First Contact, made to show lots of damage and needing rescuing by Enterprise to maintain the supremacy of Galaxy class in cannon and keep Enterprise the most interesting of ships (though Voyager with super armor of last episodes seems like toughest ever but that was timey-wimey and not referred to again).

  • This seems more like a rant than an evidenced answer – Valorum Apr 20 '18 at 9:11
  • Oh, I thought we all watched the shows and paid attention to those details. I did site the specific examples and which shows and when those statements were made. This isn't youtube with the ability to snip scenes and make a montague or a book with page numbers. The point is that Defiant's capability has been made fluid in the show, adjusted to suit the narrative. – Hebekiah Apr 27 '18 at 16:39
  • Valorum, is there some information you are disputing or just prefer a different format? I'm seeing your comments and downvoting in numerous questions that are negative without ever trying to see what the person is trying to say, just how they say it. This is a discussion on Star Trek, a fictional show made up by non-scientist writers and doesn't seem to require the level of documentation as a proof in organic chemistry. Don't take the joy out of it, the wonder of exploring ideas from different perspectives and ways of communicating. Maybe you need a universal translator? – Hebekiah Apr 27 '18 at 17:36
  • You've made lots of bold statements but provided zero evidence to support any of them. "The power generator must be a major innovation." - Really? Where does it say that?. "the Defiant can be in a knock down fight much longer with fewer casualties and costly damage" - Where does this happen?. "According to some ultra-Trekaphiles" - Which? Where did they say that? Why should I pay attention to what other fans have said? Etc etc. – Valorum Apr 27 '18 at 17:41
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    @Hebekiah - ST:DS9 writers play so fast and loose with the capabilities of ceertain people that it's sometimes a miracle it stays stitched together. There is a reason why captains command ships and admirals fleets and those positions do not mix. "Defiant" as command ship is a joke. Coordinate groups? Same. also, NCC-1701E is a Sovereign-class, not Galaxy. And no, it was not downgraded because Sovereign is a new breed of SF ships - with more emphasis on combat and less on diplomatic and scientific role(s). That is why it's smaller than Galaxy, but with more punch. – AcePL Mar 8 at 15:54

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