Max. Warp: 9.5
Max. Impulse: 0.98 lightspeed
Armaments: One light defensive phaser coupled to the phased array; Four external hardpoints allow additional munitions or equipment to be carried.
Typical loadout (for one hardpoint):
Type: Strategic Mapping, Astrometric, Reconnaissance, and Tactical Sensing (SMARTS) runabout.
Status: 2 squadrons in service aboard 2 Michelson class C3I Cruisers. 2 additional squadrons in production and awaiting assignment to Michelson class vessels undergoing refit.
The Lippershay is yet another development of the versatile Chevalier family. As the fortunes of the Dominion War began to turn, Starfleet determined a need for a sensors system capable of providing extremely long ranged detection of Dominion forces, necessary due to the superior performance of the Dominion vessels.
Several concepts were put forward to fill the requirement. The two main proposals were:
A cost/benefit study indicated that while the per-unit resource cost of early-warning stations would be less, a very large number would be required to provide adequate coverage, negating any savings. The other proposal, improved C3I vessels, would require a higher unit cost, but would allow the sensing capability to move with the fleet. This would allow the Federation to quickly exploit a rapidly-changing situation without waiting for additional bases to be moved forward.
By this time, the sensor acquity of ships equipped with multifunction phased arrays had been proven. Early tests using a Shenandoah class carrier and Chevalier class fighters proved that a single vessel simply could not provide adequate sensing ability. Later tests coordinated the sensor data provided by each fighter with that gathered by the carrier. With the carrier providing the processing power to analyze the data, sensor range and acquity were exponentially enhanced.
Starfleet issued a requirement for a C3I cruiser and specialized runabouts to provide the additional capability. Early proposals would have used Chevaliers with a reduced weapons load and additional sensors, but the Chevalier class was already being phased out of production in favor of the Le Mat class fighter. Starfleet ordered a small number of Le Mat spaceframes to be modified as Sensor Runabouts.
Initial testing confirmed that the concept was valid, but the Le Mat's stealthy design did not provide enough lateral surface area for adequate sensing. Rather than design a completely new vessel, the New runabout was equipped with a "sail" along the spaceframe's backbone to provide the additional lateral sensing area. The sail is deployed when the vessel is actively sensing, but folds to the rightalong the visible "cutline" to allow the vessel to fit within conventional shuttlebays (the illustration above shows the sail in the deployed position). The Lippershay class SMARTS runabout bears a superficial resemblance to the Le Mat, from which it is derived, but differs from it in several key areas.
The torpedo launchers and all other armaments have been removed, replaced by a single defensive phaser. The internal space freed by this modification allowed the installation of additional sensing equipment, as well as data pre-processors which reduce the bandwidth required to transmit the collected data back to the mothership for final processing and evaluation. An additional crew member was added, an Electronic Warfare Officer, specially trained to operate and maintain the data collection and transmission equipment.
The Warp coils in the nacelles were replaced with a coaxial warp/impulse system similar to that used in the Defiant class escort, and the gravitic slope modulator (GSM) impulse system was removed. The GSM attitude control system remains, as it occupies less internal volume than a concentional system would.
Performance is somewhat degraded from the Le Mat specification, but is still good for a vessel of its size. The Lippershay runabout is capable of operating in its designed capacity while keeping up with the fleet.
Four external hardpoints permit the Lippershay to carry additional sensing equipment should the mission require it. This capability isn't part of the original requirement, but since the Le Mat already had the hard points, it was determined to be more cost-effective to leave them on rather than delete them. This additional sensing capability will prove most useful during peacetime, when the SMARTS system will be used for galactic survey and exploration.
The Lippershay incorporates a de-rated version of Holographic Hull Projectors (HHP). As the ship is expected to operate near, but not within a prospective battle area, it was decided to reallocate some of the HHP processing capacity to the sensor systems. The ship is still extremely difficult to detect at the ranges it is expected to encounter hostile forces, but is not as effectively cloaked as with the latest version of HHP. The holographic hull surface actively displays hull markings such as registry numbers, vessel name or distinctive insignia, when desired.
When the Lippershay runabouts are deployed, they, along with their mothership, comprise a very-long-baseline-interferometry array. This array allows the detailed mapping of very large volumes of space. The acuity of the array is such that it can precisely locate and analyze the characteristics of objects as small as 10 centimeters in diameter from a distance of just under 40 light years.
The Lippershay/Michelson combination is intended to perform a variety of functions besides early warning. The SMARTS system can also provide secure subspace telemetry and communications, allowing on-scene commanders to obtain realtime information regarding their immediate situation. This also allows fleet commanders the ability to quickly analyze a developing battle, and modify their plans according to fit the developing situation. The SMARTS system is also capable of providing accurate, real-time fire control data to other vessels. This last capability allows ships with damaged sensors to continue fighting, if only to leave the battle intact.
Dual micro-toroidal matter/antimatter reactor assemblies (MT-M/ARA) provide power, supplemented by a battery of quantum flywheels. The flywheels store several hours' worth of additional output for emergency use, allowing the vessel's power consumption to temporarily exceed generation capacity by several orders of magnitude. An additional advantage of this power storage configuration is the ability to "run silent" by shutting down the MT-M/ARAs (eliminating neutrino emissions) and operating solely from battery power. This mode of operation is used when attempting to detect very faint or subtle signals.
The interior sections of the Lippershay, like the Le Mat, are palletized, allowing rapid changout of damaged components or rapid upgrades as new technology becomes available. The Lippershay is as cramped as the older Chevalier fighter, and crews are screened for claustrophobia before assignment.
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