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|Expected Refit Cycle||
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Matter/Antimatter powered warp drive
Warp 9.1 (for 6 hours)
The Hideki-class patrol ship is a small multi-role starship that serves a number of different roles within the Cardassian military, ranging from independent border defense duties to serving as a fighter alongside the main battle fleet to serving in much the same capacity as a runabout or large shuttle.
Science and Exploration
While Hideki-class ships have limited exploratory utility, with no science labs and an absolute maximum endurance of just six months, they actually perform a relatively large number of the Cardassian Union's research projects. While great priority is given to scientific endeavors that will either find new resources for the Union or have direct military applications, science for its own sake or on topics that are less pressing often do not warrant either a Tonga-class science vessel being equipped and crewed or a warship being diverted from its normal duties, and so many scientists must make do with the bare cargo hold and limited sensors of a Hideki-class patrol vessel. It beats being given a freighter, but not by much: these ships can land, which makes them suitable as the center of a research camp or for studying environments where transporters don't work, their oversized reactor cores can handle the power demands of any scientific equipment that can fit inside the hull, and they have the speed of a warship to get to experiment sites more quickly.
Indeed, many scientists take pride in being able to accomplish their projects with only a Hideki-class ship and as much scientific equipment as they can pack into it. Like the explorers aboard the tri-hulled caravels of ancient Cardassian nautical history, great discoveries be made even with few resources.
Occasionally, Hideki-class ships are used as couriers for important officials, as they are able to match the speed of the battle fleet, but they're also very discrete; it would be impossible to know which of the thousands of patrol craft within the Union are carrying a legate or ambassador and which are just doing their normal patrol runs.
In some ways, the Hideki-class follows the inverse of the design philosophy used to develop larger Cardassian warships: the Hideki is over-powered, heavily-armed, and very fast relative to its size. It was developed to serve both as a patrol ship at the borders and to keep up with the battle fleet as a picket and fighter, so much of the ship's bulk is devoted to it's impressive warp engines, which can propel it at the same speed as a Galor-class ship ten times its size. This requires an over-sized warp reactor, which is tied directly to a large heat exchanger that's a prominent feature of the ship's dorsal hull. As with the warp core, the impulse engines are extra-large to provide fighter-level performance for a relatively large craft.
The ship has two decks, the main deck where the cockpit, crew quarters, and primary systems are located, as well as a lower cargo deck. The cockpit module protrudes slightly from the bow, a module that also contains the shrouded deflector array and forward phaser bank. There is a forward viewport for the cockpit, but it is often covered with an armored plate, especially for units assigned to the fleet as support ships.
Significantly more heavily-armed than the small craft of other races, the Hideki-class has a medium phaser array in the nose which is capable of damaging even capital ships, as well as a torpedo launcher that fires full-sized photon torpedoes. Between the prongs on the stern of the ship, there is a medium phaser cannon which the Hideki uses to discourage pursuit, and during attack runs against larger starships. Energy weapon coverage is rounded out by two light phaser emitters on the ventral surface of the hull, one each on the port and starboard corners of the ship.
As a patrol ship, the Hideki-class can handle any civilian ship it runs across and most light craft like runabouts or shuttles. They tend to operate in groups of three (as is standard for Cardassian vessels of all sizes), which allows them to quickly overwhelm most threats, or at least detain them until a full-size warship can arrive.
During fleet battle scenarios, the Hideki serves as both a picket ship to protect the larger ships from enemy fighters, but also as an attack ship that can directly threaten enemy capital ships. The very largest Cardassian ship classes can embark Hideki-class ships as support vessels, but these small craft generally travel directly with the main fleet.
Hideki-class starships can operate with a flight crew of just five but can accommodate crews of up to thirty. Vessels assigned to patrol duties tend to carry a few extra engineers and a security detachment of ten troops to handle customs enforcement and boarding duties. The accommodations are spartan, with a bunk room located near the cockpit for the flight crew, and a barracks for any troops that are aboard. The commanding officer has a tiny private cabin, which they must give up if anyone of any significant rank is aboard. Given their short endurance, these ships typically operate from a fixed base of operation and rotate back for shore leave after only a few weeks on patrol to lessen crew fatigue. The lower deck is dominated by cargo space, which can also be configured in other ways: transporting prisoners, handling scientific equipment, or housing expanded torpedo magazines. This is also where the boarding ramp is located.
While there were a number of small craft in use by the Cardassian Union throughout the 24th century, up until 2370 there were essentially nothing that bridged the gap between a simple shuttle and the Galor-class cruiser. In this year, the Maquis preference for small, heavily-armed vessels was proving to be a substantial threat both to Cardassian shuttles and to Cardassian warships, the former because they were outgunned and the latter because they simply couldn't maneuver well enough to keep small targets in their sites. The Hideki-class was developed as a direct answer to this threat: a platform between that of shuttle and starship that could serve in patrol and combat support duties.
One requirement of the design was that it had to be able to keep up with mainline Cardassian warships, as the Cardassians did not operate any vessels large enough to carry them in any great numbers. As a result, the design that emerged had advanced engines and an over-sized reactor core that put it a level of performance ahead of most other runabouts-sized vessels in the quadrant. The craft could also be used as a well-armed shuttle, a small troop transport, or a generalist runabout.
The vessel's small size allowed it to be easily produced at nearly any Cardassian facility, and the fleet's inventory quickly swelled into the thousands. Many were lost during the Dominion War, but they proved invaluable as picket ships for Cardassian forces. They continue in production at present and are ubiquitous within Cardassian space.
Hideki-class In Play
- The Hideki-class is a general-purpose small utility starship--much like a Starfleet runabout. These are useful for almost any short-duration mission type, but they have neither the range nor firepower of larger warships.
- With the fleet, they serve in a number of roles: picket, fighter, shuttle, transport, etc. Remember that Cardassians like standardization, so they'd rather have one type that fills a lot of roles than a lot of classes that serve in specialized roles.