Max Warp: 9.9 (burst speed 9.95)
Max Impulse: 0.9975 lightspeed
Crew: 1 person, trainer version has 2 persons in a tandem cockpit.
Armaments: Two phaser cannon of classified output mounted either side of the maind deflector/sensor array and four enhanced quantum torpedoes of classified yield, carried on external hardpoints.
Type: Point Defense Fighter
Status: Norwhals are being phased into service at this time. Initial production will replace all Hunley class fighters built to date, subsequent production will replace other fighters on a squadron-by-squadron basis.
About Ship: The Hunley class point defense fighter was expected to replace several classes of fighter when it was introduced. Unfortunately, several problems became apparent when the first squadrons entered service. None of the Hunleys could reach their projected maximum warp speed due to excessive dynamic stresses at high warp. The expected burst speed ability was unusable, as the stresses would have destroyed the ship almost instantly. Cruise speed was well short of projections as well, due to the same problem. As a result, the launching procedure for the quantum torpedoes imparted too little initial velocity, vastly reducing the effectiveness of this weapon. After studying the problems suffered by the Hunley, Starfleet decided to halt production and examine what went wrong.
Some of the difficulty stemmed from a virus discovered in the Advanced Starship Design Bureau (ASDB) database. The responsible party was a Dominion spy who was apprehended before further damage could be done. After the virus had been eradicated from the ASDB computers, the applicable simulations were re-run, only to find that none of the proposed fighters could meet the mission brief, as designed.
All fighter designs were returned to their respective design teams with an order to correct all design deficiencies. The fault with the quantum torpedoes did not lie entirely with the design of the fighters, but also with the torpedo itself. While perfectly adequate when fired from a standard launch mechanism, no launch method suitable for fighter use could provide enough velocity to the torpedo. This difficulty was overcome by borrowing technology from the SARPEV program. Standard quantum torpedoes were modified by adding a short-duration warp drive with variable geometry. This allowed the torpedo to be launched at any velocity and orientation, while also allowing the torpedo to accelerate to its target at high warp without regard to the velocity of the launch vehicle. When all designs were re-submitted for evaliuation, ASDB took the cautionary step of ordering prototypes of all versions to compete in a fly-off. The revised Hunley, re-named Norwhal, was still the best suited to the mission profile.
The Norwhal is approximately the same size as the Hunley, at approximately the same length and width, but with a deeper fuselage. The propulsion system was changed to place multiple warp coils in the "wings" between the Bussard collectors and the intercoolers. eliminating the external nacelles. The outer segments of the wings were given a slight amount of anhedral for improved efficiency at cruise. The wings incorporate a variable geometry system to allow even more efficiency at very high warp speeds without inpairing cruise efficiency. , and now has four external hardpoints. The internal weapons bay was eliminated, and a small M/ARA was installed to supplement the quantum flywheel battery.
and an uprated targeting system.
The Norwhal was the only design to retain the burst speed capability originally called for, though with much less ultimate velocity than the Hunley was projected to be capable of. The ability to quickly approach or depart a hostile zone of fire, although no longer considered vital to the success of the program, was still considered an important asset to such a small vessel, increasing its potential for survival.
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