All of the ships of every species seem to be medium to large vessels with multiple crew members. Why aren't there single fighter craft and carrier ships to transport them in mass?

I've just noticed the difference between Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek, where the former has primarily aircraft carriers, and the latter has battleships.

Wouldn't a huge fleet of small fighters be extremely maneuverable and possibly stealthy?


For clarity, my question is not about the Federation and their choice of ships, but the universe at large. I would think there would be some diversity in space warfare strategy, such as huge armadas of fighters with base stations / carriers.

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    There were Romulan Fighter craft in Star Trek Nemesis, but they were more of a plot device then anything else.
    – Xantec
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 11:37
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    It's worth noting that Star Trek ships are actually fairly small in terms of sci-fi starships. The space requirements for any striking craft are significant, and it's unlikely that any warship could devote enough space and personnel to carry a worthwhile number of ST fighter craft - that space and those people COULD be used for more weapons or torpedoes, and backup redshirts.
    – Jeff
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 13:18
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    @SachinShekhar grandfathered. Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 3:59
  • there are aircraft carriers in ST universe. The Scimitar, Tholians use them, Dominion uses them, Akira-class is a lgiht carrier, Orion syndicate has some, etc etc etc. I've downvoted because the question is based on a false assumption.
    – Petersaber
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 8:01
  • Hey, everyone! Dak says he's got this one!
    – Mazura
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 4:01

18 Answers 18


The Gene Roddenberry universe is dominated by weapons, sensors and defensive systems that would generally render "fighters" as we know them useless in battle. Systems like phasers and torpedoes are both so powerful and easily-aimed as to destroy many small craft with a single shot, and so bulky the system wouldn't fit in most small craft. Downscaling most of these weapons would reduce their effectiveness, which would already be minor against a heavily-shielded capital ship. The main remaining use of a fighter as a scout ship for long-range patrols is sometimes seen, but even then ships have long-range sensors allowing a skilled operator to ascertain the approximate size and nature of an incoming force much faster than a patrol ship could be sent. Combined with the basic overhead of designing a spaceworthy ship of any size, small ships simply aren't cost-effective if you can build big.

There are several episodes of TNG and Voyager where the inadequacy of small craft against a large powerful ship is demonstrated; VOY:Dreadnought for instance had a planet's entire space force (consisting of small fighter-type craft) decimated by the Dreadnought without the missile receiving a scratch. There was a similar episode in TNG where the Enterprise crew was duped into almost attacking a pre-warp civilization with a fledgling space force. A short phaser burst to each ship did it; the Enterprise wasn't even forced off-course.

A Klingon Bird of Prey, containing only about a dozen crew and officers, would probably be the closest thing to a fighter throughout most of the canon. Though with its large wings it is similar in width to a Constitution-class starship, the actual habitable area is very small, by some accounts smaller than the Defiant-class (with a complement of about two dozen). Instead, their cloaking device makes them hard to find, which makes them perfect for patrols, scouting, deep strike, and harrassment. The Romulan Bird of Prey is similar. Both of these factions have much larger craft which would be a match or more for the Federation cruisers of the respective eras.

Jem'Hadar fighters are called that, but they're very similar in almost all respects to a Klingon Bird of Prey. The key difference being that the Jem'Hadar ships are commonly used in groups as landing craft, while Klingon ships, although landing-capable, usually stay out in space as lone wolves.

Deep Space Nine and Voyager did introduce a few Federation ships smaller than the standard cruiser-size ships of TOS and TNG. Runabouts were introduced in the late TNG series as DS9 ramped up; these were larger, armed shuttles that could stand up to small aggressors (a runabout isn't quite a match for a Jem'Hadar fighter, but if it took one by surprise it had the maneuverability to win by attrition). During Operation Return, the Federation employed attack fighters as a counter to the Jem'Hadar fighters (which were "small fries" but posed a threat in numbers to larger ships). The Ma'Quis ended up using the same ship plans, acquired from Federation defectors, to build their own fighters. The Defiant, seen in many DS9 episodes, is best described as a corvette; a small multi-crew hit-and-run ship used for patrols and deep strikes in hostile territory. The Delta Flyer would be a true fighter in most senses of the word; a heavily-armed, highly maneuverable, lightly-crewed ship somewhere between a shuttle and runabout in size.

All of these ships had some home base, either a larger cruiser or a space station. However, they were secondary to the primary purpose and armament of that ship or station. The "carrier", in terms of a ship whose main purpose is to be a floating base for these light craft, was not seen in the Federation fleet, because the primary reason they're used today is that fighters don't have the range needed to cover the globe from a stationary base, but they do have better range than most other ship armaments like artillery, torpedoes or even cruise missiles. In Star Trek, where the fighters themselves are warp-capable and relatively long-range, a ship whose primary mission is to ferry a large number of these fighters around the galaxy would just be a big target, especially when a fully-armed enemy ship can close distance at several hundred times the speed of light.

One more thing not yet mentioned is that a carrier is, first and foremost, a military weapon. Star Fleet's primary mission is exploration, with its secondary mission being peacekeeping, and ships are designed (and armed) based on that mission. Many pure "science vessels", like the Grissom, apparently weren't even armed (the Pasteur, a science/medical ship, did have some weapons but they were laughable against an enemy ship of similar size). It would be very difficult for the Federation to justify building and maintaining a massive carrier vessel, with the necessary offensive weaponry to defend itself in a battle and a fighter complement to boot, as a ship built for any other purpose than war. Even in the depths of the Dominion War, and with the Borg poking their noses in wherever they can, that's just not in Starfleet's charter. Besides, undertaking a construction project like that would likely take too long; even smaller ships like the Intrepid class take years to build, so you'd need to start construction at the first whisper of a major war, and it might launch in time to make a difference in a pivotal endgame battle, after which it does, what exactly? Patrol borders, antagonizing other factions with open displays of Federation firepower?

The main place fighters, and carriers, are seen in space sci-fi is in universes where energy shields aren't present (or have very limited effect). These universes also usually have more realistic energy generation systems than Star Trek's, and so a small craft has a short effective range and is generally not FTL-capable (unlike almost everything with a weapon in the ST universe). In such a universe, fighters now have value, as a wing of fighters can chew up larger craft, and remain effective even with horrifying attrition of their own numbers. Compounding that, larger ships' heavy guns are generally too slow to track a small, fast-moving fighter. So, it becomes a paper-rock-scissors battle, where fighter loses to corvette, which loses to capital ship, which loses to fighter. Star Wars and Babylon 5 are two well-known universes in which fighters (and ships with a permanent fighter complement) were used to great effect, but in virtually all cases the ship doing the fighter-carrying still had its own heavy guns for ship-to-ship confrontation. I can only think of one ship - the B5 Raider mothership - that wasn't combat-effective without its complement of fighters.

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    It's also worth noting that aircraft carriers/fighters became such a dominant force on Earth because of the ability of fighter-bombers to project power to far greater distances than battleships. This wouldn't be the case in Trek for the same reason that fighter-bombers and long-range bombers are slowly losing their appeal today. Today we have ballistic missiles, boomer subs, cruise missiles, and UAVs. Trek species probably also have smart weapons (photon torps) that can be remote-controlled and project firepower long distance without a human pilot. Commented Nov 12, 2011 at 23:04
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    In other words, with advanced AI (Ent-D's computer is practically sentient), why put pilots in harm's way just to deliver ordinance to the enemy? And with drones and probes, there's no longer a need for scout aircraft launched from carriers. Commented Nov 12, 2011 at 23:07
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    Exactly. Fighter-bombers still have some use in-theater, as per target destroyed an aircraft sortie is cheaper than a long-range missile. But, add in the overhead of making the craft space-worthy, the ease with which a small craft can be picked out of space by a beam weapon, and the relatively limited ordinance/energy capacity of its weapons systems, and a fighter doesn't look so good anymore.
    – KeithS
    Commented Jan 6, 2012 at 20:15
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    @RCIX "Prior to 2370 these ships were civilian Federation support couriers not used by Starfleet." - They're effectively shuttlecraft with lots and lots of weapons. Not exactly fighter-craft material... It's just that the Federation was getting desperate at that stage of the Dominion War.
    – Izkata
    Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 0:44
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    There were also those tiny fighters that attempted to defend sector 001 from the Borg cube in The Best of Both Worlds, if I’m remembering correctly. Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 21:16

Actually, we do know from the TNG episodes that the Federation has "starfighters". In the episode where Wesley is at the Academy and there is the accident that they cover up, they are flying Federation fighters. So we know that they have them, at least in limited number.

As for why we do not see them regularly, I also see another likelihood. Time and time again it is emphasized by various characters that Starfleet is not a military organization. Yes, they are charged by the Federation with its protection, but unless they are forced into war, they have very little focus on military-like efforts. And, as erdiede points out, during the war in DS-9, we do see usage of Federation fighters against the Breen, Cardassians and Jem'hadar.

From this I would deduce that the Federation does have and develop fighter technology, but the only time they make heavy utilization of it is during times of war. The rest of the time their role is severely limited or they are mostly dismantled or stored until needed again.

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    That is a good explanation for the Federation, but what about the rest of the Galaxy? Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 15:28
  • There are races in the Star Trek universe that are known to use fighters, though none of them ever played any significant role in any of the tv series. The Gorn are one in particular. That's one race I kept hoping would show up again in the tv series, but they never did.
    – BBlake
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 20:56
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    The "fighters" in the Federation fleet are little more than training/aerobatic craft, one step under shuttles. If you can fly one of those, and react fast enough not to get yourself killed, you can pilot anything in the Federation fleet.
    – KeithS
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 21:31

DS-9 introduced fighters in a limited capacity. Wiki-Alpha Federation Attack Fighter. Presumably the federation didn't use them before the Dominion War because of either technology limitations or simple lack of need for them.

A personal theory of mine is that the Federation may have been wary of using a fighter, which is to an extant an expendable asset along with its flight crew. As I said, just a theory.


Also lists other species attack fighter. It should be noted that some of these are really more of a patrol ship than a fighter. The question of why does ultimately come down to the issue of carriers. The gist of what I have read from sources is that most fighters can not enter as high a warp as other larger ships, which reveals a critical flaw: unless they are defending a fixed target or attacking a fixed target, they could quite easily be outrun. As we haven't seen many episodes of Star Trek across any series deal with large scale planetary assaults\defenses except DS-9, their utility is limited.

A normal starship would simply enter pursuit in warp to continue an engagement. A carrier would have to reload all its fighters, enter warp in pursuit, then relaunch fighters to continue an effective attack.

Also in order to effectively use a carrier, it would require a small fleet or escort to screen the carrier during launch\recovery cycles. Depending on the number of fighters carried per carrier and the effectiveness of each fighter you could potentially tie up too many ships in each Carrier Group to be an effective use of resources except in the largest of battles.

  • Other craft, such as escort-type vessels, seem to be closest to the "fighter" style of tactics in battle. Examples of ships seen to use almost dogfighter style tactics would include: USS Defiant, Klingon Bird-of-Prey (B'rel class), Dominion Attack Ship, Cardassian Fighter (DS9 Tech Manual). I would also speculate that a lack of Carrier + Fighters would in part be down to the relative shield/weapon strength of capital ships, and that it would be hard to have enough firepower and defense in a starfighter type ship to be effective.
    – sequoiad
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 16:05

My guess is phasers.

Throughout the Star Trek series there is a premium on hardened hulls and shield power/modulation. Even an enemy like the Borg (which would seem to be perfectly suited to swarm tactics) use huge klunky space tanks.

There is some notion of the birds of prey (Klingon and Romulan) being more maneuverable, but their main trick is cloaking as opposed to outright speed.

This leads me to the conclusion that the combination of phasers, a speed limit of full impulse, and seemingly unflappable inertial dampers negates a smaller craft's manuverability advantage. Bigger ships have bigger engines to get that mass moving in a hurry, and there's no drag to worry about.

There's also a possibility that a craft has to be a certain size to have shielding technology, and without shields in Star Trek, you're toast. Or without large enough engines you can't generate the fire power needed to punch through a capital ship.

There were some fighters used by the Maquis, but no one seemed to take them seriously.

  • LOL @ the comment about the Maquis fighters.
    – eidylon
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 17:39
  • The Defiant is rather small (I think about the size of BoP) and is repeatedly shown outmanoeuvering bigger ships.
    – Raphael
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 14:19
  • @Raphael - The DS9 Technical Manual says the Defiant-class has a length of 171m, 134m beam, and 30m height. A B'Rel-class BoP is 158m long, 182m beam, and 99m height. So it's a bit longer, about 2/3rds as wide, and less than a third the height of a BoP.
    – Compro01
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 17:15

It strikes me that none of you seem to understand what fighters are for. I, being ex-USAF, have some insight for you. While air-to-air combat is romantic, and at times necessary; it is not what airpower is about. Airpower is used to provide Air Superiority of a specific area above the ground in wartime to enable boots-on-the-ground to capture and hold land/territory. Aircraft Carriers we know today simply project airpower from the sea. Some examples are; to kick the tails of sea pirates, protect a supply convoy, and for marine/troop ground support. The preposed question of a Starfleet Space/Starfighter Carrier could only be as a pure military vessel.

However, the very idea of attempting to achieve Space Superiority is, frankly, ridiculous. (…space IS a bit large…) And, as some of you already pointed out; conquest is not Starfleet Charter. Vessels like the Defiant make more sense in a tactical situation in space; warp capable, cloak, and a ship "with teeth" as Sisko said. (Very much like the Corvette class ships of today…um…minus the cloak.) Starfleet dose not take over other planets either. (Unlike the Jem'Hadar/Dominion.) I suspect that is why you saw them (fighters) in DS9's "Dominion War". A fact verified in TNG that Starfleet indeed has fighters (...we learned this while Wesly was at Starfleet Academy.) simply because one still needs to know how to fly and/or operate a craft in three dimensions.

While Starfleet is suppose to be a primarily exploratory organization; Starfleet is charged with the defense of the United Federation of Planets. That is a military mission. Where we did not see many stories of the military type; like the Defiant, I am sure there are more military style vessels in Starfleet. (Especially after the Borg caught them with their collective pants down…) Ships like;

Heavy Frigates, Boarder Cutters/Cruisers (Neutral Zone), Light Frigates (Starbases/Outpoasts), Corvettes like Defiant (Space Stations)... To my delight, a nod was made to the Olympus Class Dreadnought; my favorite fan vessel (with the very shuttle/fighter/bomber craft teleport bay suggested… oh the possibilities… Borg/Dominion/etc. butt kickin', planet forming support/defense…sigh…) during the final "All Good Things…" episode. Where "Admiral Riker" turned the Enterprise into a cloak capable (sweet!), similar class, dreadnought. (…with a really big gun…YES!)

As cool as Defiant is; given the choice I would love to command a ship like that dreadnought. I am doubly sure it could handle any and all types of missions; from exploration, to diplomacy, to "aggressive negotiations" …I'd never get bored :)


Well, you don't say definitively whether you're looking for in- or out-of-universe explanation. But what I've also heard and/or felt was that it's a very different philosophy.

Sticking primarily to capital ships (small as they are in the ST universe) where ships more just get damaged and rarely destroyed (at least, again, in the STU) you have very little loss of life.

Fighters/patrol ships on the other hand, tend to get destroyed a lot more... they are generally used in attrition strategies. The whole point of attrition is overwhelming the enemy with very large numbers of minor losses, including loss of life.

Given Roddenberry's utopian view of the future it doesn't really jive with attrition style engagements.

That's my understanding.


There ARE fighter craft-equivalents: birds of prey for the Klingons, Defiant and Nebula class for the federation,... and so forth. They difference is rarely emphasised before the Dominion war, but in some battles, Sisko is clearly direction the smaller vessels on a different course from the "Galaxy wing" (his words).

The Star Trek MMO picks up on those differences and divides the craft into 3 categories: big cruisers (Galaxy, Sovereign,...); small assault craft (Defiant, Akira,...) and Science craft.

There are no carriers because the mobility (range and speed) of those fighters is as good as that of the big ships, rendering a carrier pointless.

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    There's a big difference between a ten-person long-range small ship like the Defiant or BoP and a one- or two-person fighter with a limited endurance.
    – user1786
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 14:22
  • Akira-class are over 450 meters long. They're hardly small craft, they're classified as heavy cruisers. As a matter of fact, Akiras have a large shuttlebay, so large some consider it a light carrier ("Starship Spotter" book)
    – Petersaber
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 7:58

Another factor: The nature of the weaponry. Fighters are of little value in a world dominated by high speed energy weapons. Fighter defenses are basically a matter of evading incoming attacks and it's pretty hard to do that with an energy weapon. Furthermore, a fighter's ability to generate offensive energy is going to be severely limited, it's not going to have much of a punch. (Note: Look how slow the Star Wars energy weapons move--they behave more like bullets that can be evaded.)

Universes where relatively slow moving discrete weapons dominate are another matter. A fighter very well might be able to avoid such a weapon. Also, they have a heavy punch despite their small size--their limits are on how many times they can hit, not how hard they can hit.

For a perfect example of these factors at work look at the Honor Harrington universe. At the start of the series energy weapons dominated, missiles were of limited performance and basically ineffective against capital ships as they couldn't expect to survive the point defense fire. The closest thing to a fighter craft was of very little use other than system patrols against pirates.

As the series progresses missiles have come to dominate in battles between the advanced empires. Energy weapons are pretty much only used for point defense as the battle is settled by missiles before entering energy range. Fighters (and carriers--something that didn't exist at all at first) have come to play a role as they now pack a respectable punch and it's not a suicide mission.

  • While I like the Honor Harrington example, I'm afraid you have your facts as to ship weaponry wrong. While Harrington's first vessel was a light assault craft sporting a large new "grav-lance" energy weapon, that vessel was not typical of other space combat vessels. Most vessels carried a larger missile compliment as lasers were only effective at much shorter ranges and smaller ships, like frigates and LACs, don't have the armor capability to withstand closer assaults. This is what almost destroyed Harrington's LAC, it didn't have the armor needed to get close enough to use it's main weapon! Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 21:30
  • @MightyFerengi Note that I said missiles were basically ineffective against capital ships. Lighter craft, such as that grav lance experiment, didn't have the point defense to render missiles ineffective and thus missiles were useful. Note that even then few of the missiles got through. Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 0:41

I've been thinking a bit about this lately, having just rewatched DS9 and Voyager.

These are all wonderful justifications, but I suspect that it all comes down to show budget. ST:TOS used a ship that didn't land so they wouldn't have to show a landing sequence - beaming was developed because that effect was cheaper.

I suspect that, despite the complexity of battles, production cost continued to drive ship choice. I imagine doing a fighter carrier battle sequence would have cost quite a bit more than the typical 2-5 ship battles normally used in TOS and TNG. DS9 may have had more money behind it, as probably did Voyager.

With this in mind, maybe ST:Reboot movies might have more fighters because the budget would allow them.

  • I doubt this explanation. Battlestar Galactica used fighters for both sides in about the same era.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 17:27
  • DS9 did an "epic space battle" sequence at least once. Presumably, it was affordable due to the production process transitioning to digital.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 20:48
  • @Oldcat - but Battlestar Galactica was made in response to Star Wars and had quite a large budget per episode (as well as being actually 10 or so years later)
    – komodosp
    Commented Jan 22 at 13:51

Since Star Trek is based on technology progressing from today's technology on "Earth", not having fighters/small ships as part of an offensive/defensive military force goes right along with the way technology is progressing. Indeed, the F-22/F-35 are widely considered to be the last of the manned fighters.

As a student of history, I love the technology and romanticism of fighter to fighter combat, but the fact of the matter is, even now it is on it's way "out".

Another issue, that some have touched on, is the inconsistency created by power needs of weapons/sheilds/engines of large ships that show up suddenly in small, fighter sized ships.

I think a realistic portrayal of a "small ship" in the Star Trek universe that has a large offensive/defensive capacity is a ship like the Defiant, which is a platform for the tactical systems/engines/weapons of a large Federation ship, in the smallest most-military oriented package.


Fighter carriers, like current aircraft carriers, are extremely effective warships. However they are much less effective at anything else. An aircraft carrier devotes a huge amount of space to storing and supporting its aircraft, leaving very little for labs and the other things an exploration vessel might need. In the original Star Trek the voyage was intended to be more about exploration than it was about military.

  • Well, historically, there have been merchant/cargo ships converted into pseudo-carriers, with only part of the capabilities of a full carrier while retaining cargo transporting capabilities. So there's no reason why a large Trek vessel like the Galaxy class couldn't also dedicate 20% of its space to holding fighters, especially as Starfleet began militarizing and building specialized warships like the Defiant. Commented Nov 19, 2011 at 4:22
  • Can you give me an example of a merchant vessel converted to an aircraft carrier which still retained significant cargo space not related to aircraft operations? Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 1:19
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    The merchant aircraft carriers would be a good example. They were created prior to the introduction of escort carriers and provided minimal aircraft handling facilities while retaining most of their cargo capacity. Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 14:52

You may have never seen them but there are fighters and carriers in the Star Trek universe going all the way back to the original trek concordance manuals. You do see some of the 3 man fighters in the Enterprise series as interdiction patrol craft in the Solar (Earth) system. They're also mentioned in TNG as the old craft Wesley's stunt flying team at the academy were flying.

Also the STTOS joke about Sulu failing the first time he tried to take Enterprise out of spacedock (also revisted in the first reboot movie) was because Sulu was an expert fighter pilot and never before piloted a large high inertia ship like a cruiser that requires you to make slow precise movements in stardock.

In the trek manual books, carriers look like Starfleet Cargo Tug starships (saucer with 2 downward nacelles, long trains of various large cargo/passenger modules docked to the center neck strut instead of a 2ndary hull) but the long "cargo pods" instead have flattened tops for fighters to sit upon allowing up to 30 to be manned and ready to launch into flight once the carrier drops out of warp. Fighters are not warp capable so their use in battle is somewhat limited and best used as planetary defensive pawns, minelayers, and drone swarm launch platforms.


In the splintered-off timeline represented by the Star Fleet Battles game (it was based on the animated series), fighters are a major component of most fleets, particularly the Federation. Their strategic game makes the point that building large ships is time-consuming and expensive, while fighters can be churned out by the dozens. Since some of their timeline's largest wars settled down to long-term wars of attrition, all of the powers preferred replacing fighters.


So I've been cogitating on this, and I have to dispute the need for a Star Trek class carrier. As evidenced by the Dominion War, there is a time where projection of overwhelming force is the only means to ensure the safety and peace of a people. A "trek carrier" could (scaling the ship to trek size) deliver dedicated defiant ships, possibly 15-20, easily house a massive assortment of firepower, both hull mounted and variant defiant ships, and still maintain a peace-keeping mission. A single, massive ship capable of delivering a retinue of specially designed battle-cruisers that have endo/exo-atmospheric capability can project not only massive firepower across a battlespace, but can, given a loadout, project cruiser sized ships filled with medical supplies, rations, and even function as a self contained reactor for colony support.


fighter craft are useless in space combat.

They are only used in recent space operas because they were used in Star Wars, where they were originally intended to enter the first Death Star and fly around in it to reach the power core as in the later Return of the Jedi. That one single abandoned plot detail was the source of the small fighters used in Star Wars and many later space operas.

In normal space maneuvering, a ship will travel faster and change course faster if it has a higher engine power to total ship mass ratio. Within technologically equivalent ships, the power of an engine will depend on the size and mass of the engine. So the bigger the engine compared to the ship, the fast the ship will travel and change course. The fastest a ship of a given size could travel and change course is if it was all engine. Of course a ship which is all engine will not have any payload - such as crew, passengers, cargo, weapons, messages, etc.

If ship A has ten times the mass and volume of ship B and has the same size payload - such as crew, passengers, cargo, weapons, messages, etc. it will have to have engines ten times eh size of Ship B's engines and will be able to travel and change course much faster than ship B.

If A and B are space war ships, A and B should have equal offensive and defensive abilities. But of Fleet of type A space ships should be able to out run and out maneuver a fleet of Type B spaceships, so they should be able toe pick and choose when and where to fight - which will be when they have the upper hand.

If Ship A has ten times the mass and volume of ship B and has the same ratio of engine to ship volume and mass, Ship A's engines will be the ten times larger than Ship B's and it will travel and change course at the same speed as ship B. But Ship A's payload - such as crew, passengers, cargo, weapons, messages, etc. will be ten times larger than Ship B's payload.

If A and B are space war ships, A and B should travel and maneuver equally fast. But ship A will have much more powerful offensive and defensive abilities. It's defensive force screens will block the full power of ship B's weapons, and it's weapons will penetrate Ship B's defensive screen, and will also be deadly at several times the the range of ship B's weapons. Every time a fleet of Type A ships fights an approximately equal sized fleet of type B ships, the fleet of type A ships will win.

Star Trek starships are tens or hundreds of times the dimensions of Star Wars space fighters and thus have tens of thousands to millions of times the volume and mass of Star Wars space fighters. Thus a Star Trek starship should have firepower equal to thousands or millions of Star Wars space fighters as well as much greater speed and maneuveriblity.

Unless Star Wars technology is advanced enough to pack thousands or millions of times as much power per unit of volume and mass into their engines, weapons, and defensive screens as Star trek technology can, Star Trek starshps should slaughter Star Wars space fighters. And imperial Star Destroyers should slaughter rebel tie fighters like spraying insecticide on mosquitos.


Canonicially behind the scenes for DS9 The Akira class when designed to be a multirole carrier and battleship with an enormous ammount of photon torpedo launchers and multiple hangar bays for launching perigrine class Federation attack fighters. WHen it made it onto the screen its size was made smaller so the original technical layout in the Special effects blueprints had to be scrapped to make technical manual sourcebooks make sense.

Counting expanded universe sources there are multiple instances of military carriers developed and implemented by Starfleet. FOr instance in the playstation game Star Trek Invasion the plot centers around a squad of 26 federation fighter pilots stationed aboard the carrier USS Typhon which was commanded By Worf.

The Fighter craft were named the Valkyrie Class Federation attack ship. The Valkyrie class had many variants but was originally derived via heavy modification of a federation talon class scout. The standard variant being the Valkyrie with three other variants the Delta flyer looking Orca type, The Saber class light cruiser looking Griffon type, and the Defiant class inspired Scarab class. In addition to these variants the Type 1 Valkyrie was improved multiple times with minor modifications into the Valkyrie 1a then redesign into a Valkyrie mark 2 called the Valor class and later a mark 3 Valkyrie was developed and not given a name though theoretically possible names would have included Valiant.

IN addition to this game by the time period that Star trek Online takes place it appears that the klingons, having seen the potential in the Reman scimitar with its fighter craft developed a carrier capable of launching a few b-rel class birds of prey and a small squadron of To'Duj fighters.

In addition it appears that within Catian home territory the people's personal fleet was bolstered by Catian Atrox class carriers which they made available to Starfleet after the Klingons rolled out their carrier.

IN STO one of the other federation carriers is the Armitage class which realized the original design of what the akira class was originially supposed to be capible of. Essentially The idea of the armitage class is Lets take the ammount of weapons per square foot that the defiant has put it on a ship the size of a Akira class and pack its shuttlebays full of Attack fighters.

The other big federation carrier in the game is the Galaxy class dreadnaught refit. (Admiral Riker's Personal flagship from the episode "All Good Things")

But to answer the question many of the powers within the alpha and beta quadrants use carriers and Space superiority fighters, Races that are mentioned to use these tactics include the Romulans (scimitar fighters) the Orion Syndicate, Klingons, Federation, Catian (Council member race of the federation) and Tholians.


You all are trying to compare aerospace fighters in Star Trek to the full-sized ships by saying the ships' shields render fighters' attacks useless due to lack of power and the ships would in turn pop fighters with ease. You're wrong on both counts.

  1. The fighters are capable of emitting sensor-jamming signals to reduce the accuracy of ships' mounted weapons, making them less likely to be hit.

  2. Shields in Star Trek are not walls; defense shields stop energy masses (phasers, disruptors, etc.) and high-speed torpedoes, but a slower-moving fighter can pass right through a ship's shield unmolested, allowing it to attack the hull of a ship directly, and I will point out that most defense in Star Trek is in the shield systems, armor has not had as much development until Voyager with its self-fabricating ablative armor.

So fighters still maintain their usefulness. The reason you don't see large fighter groups in the show is cause of budgetary limits. Large battles in Star Trek have dozens upon dozens of large vessels slugging it out, while in Battlestar Galactica it's usually just 2, maybe 3 ships, thus they can afford large groups of fighters thrown into the mix.

  • Tbh we just saw a large "fighterbattle" in star trek. In star trek discovery season 2 to be more exact. and it was hundreds of them on each side and they COULD harm the other large vessels each.
    – Thomas
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 22:16

Consider the roles for which a small single pilot or two-person craft would be suited.

In 20th/21st century aviation (WWII onward), such craft could deliver a death blow against naval vessels potentially up to carrier size and small but high value military surface targets such as radar installations. That's why they exist in our world.

In the Star Wars universe, capital space ships aren't entirely impregnable. Fighters can get in close, and are seen colliding with large ships, causing serious damage. Because the WWII paradigm is mapped so consistently onto the Star Wars universe, fighters have a place there. They are also seen frequently because there's a war going on in almost every movie episode (after all, the franchise title is Star Wars).

In the Star Trek universe, as already mentioned in several other answers, Starfleet is an instrument primarily of exploration, discovery, diplomacy, and peace. Although there are times when conflicts escalate, most of the stories told in this universe don't revolve around military conflict; those that do usually occur on a smaller scale. Also, in the Trekverse, big ships have powerful shielding, making them impregnable to attack by smaller craft - size matters. Fighters aren't obsolete or non-existent, but their roles are limited and fit only into very few stories. We didn't see any in either TOS or TNG (excepting for "The First Duty") because the Enterprise (the center of both series) exists to fulfill Starfleet's mandate (exploration, ...) and is armed only as a matter of prudence. We get glimpses of them in DS9 because of more expansive stories that involved epic battles. Again, this is Star Trek - conceived originally as a journey of adventure and discovery, not wars among the stars.

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