What I will start with are the smallest of starships in my universe, separate them by class and purpose. That means a lot of blogs, each describing one individual starship.
Scout fighters are used to screen bigger starships and collect additional scan-data. By design, the scout's weaponry is limited even though their size is the same as other space superiority fighters. Instead of multiple weapon mounts, a scout fighter sports extras like powerful sensor arrays extended fuel tanks and atmospheric wings. Their primary weapon is always used for self-defense only since the purpose of a scout it not to defeat the enemy but locate it. Some fighters are also equipped with top of the line engines to give them the much-needed edge in speed.
In stark contrast with most navies, Terran scouts often carry jury-rigged fuel pods, sensor decoys, and even long-range missiles. The industrious humans and their clients often make use of battlefield salvage to construct their scout craft. Scout squadrons employed by the Colonial Navy (CN) are a force recon unit, and as such CN wings are more numerous and often accompanied by retro-fitted shuttlecraft. Those provide on the spot refuel&rearm and can always pick up ejected pilots if need be. According to the Terran combat doctrine, a scout fighters' secondary objective is to destroy their enemy counterparts, therefore mitigating the enemy fleet's ability to detect any possible ambushes. Fighter pilots in the CN fly their scouts as if they were piloting standard SSF fighters. The fact that these ships aren't heavily armed mean nothing to the experienced pilots of the Terran Minarchy. A fleet or a carrier without his scouts is vulnerable. CN pilots often use their superior skills accumulated during years of piloting scout fighters to a devastating effect. CN scout wings make use of their scanning arrays to trick their enemies by creating ghost targets. Many times outright confusing and overpowering the enemy sensor operators and giving their allies a much-needed edge in combat. Elite CN scout wings are deployed on long-range interception missions, with objectives to take out enemy strike craft, bombers or even dropships carrying star troopers.
Civilians make use of scout fighters in their most versatile role - as a patrol craft. Terran spacers have specially modified scout fighters whom they use as explorational vessels. Heavily modified scout fighters are often sent to explore distant star systems and scan stellar phenomena. The clear distinction between a space-born scout fighter and a universal one is the addition of atmospheric wings. Those allow the ship to spend much less fuel while descending into the atmosphere of an unknown planet, therefore expanding the craft's range.
No matter the navy, scout fighters are an integral part of any space force. Where sensors can be tricked or defeated by clever use of electronic warfare suits, a pair of eyes (or more) are still invaluable.
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